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  • Nokia Is On The Rise [View article]
    May be not as much as you think, since the smart money will have been aware of this before it was announced (as ever). So the recent decline in price may already have taken this into account.

    Not saying the stock may not dip below $3.50, but if so I think a quick bounce will be in order.
    Mar 3 08:12 AM | 20 Likes Like |Link to Comment
  • S&P Downgrades U.S. to AA+ - We're Tied With Belgium! [View article]
    Good point about the inequity in incomes in the US and the need for reform of the federal tax system.

    The bottom 50% of wage earners who pay no income taxes pay Social Security tax, Medicare tax, gasoline tax, sales taxes, telephone taxes, state income taxes, automobile taxes, property taxes, garbage collection taxes, school taxes, student loans, and have little left over beyond what is needed for basic survival, medical copayments, etc.

    Add to them a large tranche of people in retirement living off Social Security payments, and the disabled and handicapped, and you are left with relativley few able bodied working taxpayers to actually pay the federal income taxes.

    Compare this to Australia, where much more workers pay income taxes, albeit with the catch that the minimum wage is Oz is about $13 per hour. The first $6000 of income is free and then starts at 15 cents on the dollar up to $37000 when it changes to 30 cents.

    Incomes over $185000 pay a marginal rate of 45%. The same rate of tax is paid on business income.

    The US needs to look at revising the tax code and eliminating deductions. Why everyone should get a standard deduction even when they have nothing to deduct defies belief. The mortgage interest deduction probably needs to go to, then you can get rid of the standard deduction.

    The US might also look at introducing a national Internet sales tax, which would have the dual benefits of raising revenue and leveling the playing field for local businesses competing with mail order.

    Another possibility is a Value Added Tax as in Europe. Although similar to sales taxes already in place, it also taxes service transactions.

    A further consideration is to tighten up on companies using tax haven dodges. If the major manufacturing nations (G10) entered into a treaty forbidding companies that trade in their territories to incorporate in tax havens with embargo provisions on violators and host jurisdictions, they could enforce this in the same way that the US enforces bans on its citizens playing offshore poker and arrest executives any time they come to the US.

    No matter what state a corporation chooses to register in, there should be a national profit tax equal to the personal tax rate. Remember that the Supreme Court has already rules that Corporations have the same rights as people. They should also have the same responsibilities.
    Aug 6 08:40 AM | 18 Likes Like |Link to Comment
  • Nokia: A $3 Bargain On Mobile Phone Hyper Growth [View article]
    Would it be easier for Nokia or for Apple to double its smartphone sales within 1 quarter?
    Nov 5 08:59 AM | 16 Likes Like |Link to Comment
  • Why You Should Buy Apple Now [View article]
    Terrific article, very comprehensive, incisive, and accurate. No further comment necessary.
    Mar 10 09:18 PM | 15 Likes Like |Link to Comment
  • The Retirement Bubble [View article]
    I agree and I strongly recommend those who doubt to read books like 'Liar's Poker" a memoir of a Wall St. banker who was there when the securitization of mortgages started and left the banking business because he was so disgusted with the greed, amorality, and irresponsible behavior that he saw at first hand.

    I think a lot of the people who think the blame belongs to the people who took out home loans are well intentioned and perhaps they feel that if everyone had been as responsible as they, then everything would have been OK and the housing bubble would nt have burst, but they are just looking at what they see in their own communities and their own businesses, and are not fully aware of what was going on behind the scenes in the macroeconomic and legislative spheres.

    To put the blame on ordinary lower-middle class working people is not right, because one does not expect them to understand high finance. People who used to rent bought homes because others, professionals like realtors, appraisers, and bankers persuaded them that they were making a good investment and that buying a home made more economic sense than renting, even when it was clear the the price of homes exceeded the cost of land, materials, and labor necessary to replace them from scratch.
    Oct 9 03:59 PM | 15 Likes Like |Link to Comment
  • Monday Market Movement: Is Socialism Good For The Markets? [View article]
    Weren't the European banks also pulled down by "investing" in the toxic US mortgage securities?

    Glass-Steagall was repealed under Clinton, but the crisis came to a head after exactly 8 years of the disastrous rule of Bush the Younger in which the lack of regulation of the mortgage markets was compounded by expensive, pointless, and unfunded wars of aggression.

    You really have to blame Bush and his clueless advisers who told him that a terrorist attack with planes was impossible, torture was legal, that the Iraq war could be paid for with Iraqi oil, and that Saddam Hussein was about to attack the US with germ warfare and poison gas at any moment if he did not strike back first.

    In early 2010 I was in Port au Prince, Haiti, the week after the terrible earthquake and saw the some of the US built Haitian White House, cracked and sagging like some crazy movie sound stage in a disaster movie.

    The US White House was figuratively in about the same condition when the Bush family slunk away, having inherited a world at peace where torture was outlawed and a government without a deficit, and having left office with the world financial system staring at bankruptcy and perpetual undeclared war everywhere. What a champ and what a chump he was.
    May 7 05:31 PM | 14 Likes Like |Link to Comment
  • The Retirement Bubble [View article]
    I think this is all true.

    As a Florida resident who is now retired, I spend a lot of my time in the Dominican Republic, which I find to be a more affordable place to live than Florida, which is traditionally regarded as a good place to retire to.

    I see many immigrants to the US saving money now so that they can return home to retire.

    Many young Americans will have to look for opportunities abroad, and not just in Afghanistan and Iraq. Many are already going to China to teach.

    Retirement is something of an artificial construct now that so many of us are living longer than previous generations, but the idea that we can all continue to work till the age of 70 and beyond is a bit loopy. The increasing health problems of aging take an inevitable toll, and while some will be able to continue, many will not. Also older people need to move over to make room for youngsters.

    There is also a mental and emotional factor. Those who enjoy their jobs and businesses and sustain mental nourishment from them may well want to continue, but for those who hate them, retirement cannot come soon enough.
    Oct 9 08:42 AM | 14 Likes Like |Link to Comment
  • Nokia: Ready For A Quick Exit? [View article]
    This article reads like it was written like a child. Of course Nokia IS working on Windows 8 devices right now. That is the whole point.
    Jun 29 09:38 AM | 13 Likes Like |Link to Comment
  • U.S. Downgraded by S&P - We're AA+ Now [View article]
    Me too, but glad I did keep hold of half my puts.

    I propose an emergency constitutional amendment to the effect that members of Congress are responsible for paying for their own armed guards.
    Aug 5 09:19 PM | 13 Likes Like |Link to Comment
  • Are The Markets Rigged? [View article]
    Depends what you mean by rigged.

    Phil Davis has made a cohesive case for the rigging of oil prices at an artificially high level by means of juggling an oversupply of oil by traders employed by the large oil companies constantly rolling overpriced futures prices forwards rather than letting end user supply and demand set the prices.

    The author of this article also does not consider the possibility of market makers rigging the market by, for example, yo-yoing prices of stock up and down so as to knock out stops or panic long or short position holders into abandoning positions, only to promptly reverse the upwards or downwards move.

    This may not be evidence of deliberate rigging, but certainly the operation of the market is far from transparent and movement of prices of popular stocks often seems to have nothing to do with stock fundamentals or basic supply and demand.

    Of course individual investors can't do anything about any of this, and all we can do is study the behavior of the market, see how the game is played, and take advantage of whatever we find is to our advantage.
    Mar 22 08:52 AM | 12 Likes Like |Link to Comment
  • How Many Lumias Can Nokia Sell At These Prices? [View article]
    "Basically, Mr. Long doesn't believe that the new line of Lumias will outperform the current line of Lumias by much. As an investor and customer of Nokia, I completely disagree with this assessment."

    Good article. I agree with the above. With the Lumia 920 Nokia has produced a phone that is every bit as good as the iPhone, if not better, which will sell for less than the iPhone. This doesn't mean that it will sell anywhere near as many as the iPhone, or that it will dent iPhone sales, but on the other hand it seems entirely logical that the phone may sell fairly well to contrarians who don't want an Apple, or who want to squeeze their dollar, euro, or rupee a bit further.

    In additional Nokia still has a large research and development wing and one expects that the next phone after the Lumia 920 will keep the pressure on the iPhone for the claim to be the crown jewel of smart phones.
    Sep 28 08:35 AM | 12 Likes Like |Link to Comment
  • Weighing The Week Ahead: Real Progress In Europe? [View article]
    I don't think this is really fair true. European banks, especially UK banks, were badly damaged by exposure to American subprime mortgage bonds sold to them by American gangsters. Taxpayers had to take huge losses to bail out these banks and still are.

    The real problem came when the poorer southern European nations were allowed to join the Euro and tried to play catch up by borrowing excessively to fund development. This was not the fault of the northern European nations and it has not been the case for two generations.

    Greece is really a case out on its own. The financial irresponsibility on the part of the Greek government and on the part of the bankers who lent them money has been breathtaking. See Michael Lewis's Vanity Fair article on Greece for amazing details. However, again, Greece's circumvention of EU borrowing rules was partly assisted by Goldman Sachs gangsters helping them to avoid scrutiny via currency swaps.

    Bottom line is that although politicians are certainly not innocents in all this, a corrupt and criminal banking industry in both Europe and the US has facilitated this disaster. Personally I would favor nationalizing all banks as part of the solution, but an alternative would be to bring the banking profession in all countries under control like the medical and legal professions where bankers would be held personally responsible for criminal negligence and failure of duty of care. Of course bankers would soon find that their liability insurance, if they could get it, would eat up most of their bonuses.

    It is quite absurd that an industry as important as banking is allowed to operate without any meaningful regulation.
    Oct 23 11:58 AM | 12 Likes Like |Link to Comment
  • The Retirement Bubble [View article]
    "If you allow people to "persuade" you, then you made a mistake."

    Yes, but it is easy to say that with hindsight. People who are not professionals often respect the expertise of people who present themselves as educated professionals.

    What about if someone bought a home and sold it less than four years later for more than double the cost they paid for it? Would you say they made a wise decision, or would you say they were just lucky? That actually happened to me. I paid $90,000 for a house and less than four years later I wanted to sell it. I told the realtor that I hoped to get $130,000 for it and she got me $230,000. Did I make a great decision or was I just lucky?

    A month after I sold it Hurricane Charley came through and a massive oak tree fell on the house and squashed it. Does that mean the purchaser made a mistake?

    Did everyone who bought a home in 2007 make a mistake? How were they to know this? Should they have consulted people like realtors, bankers, and appraisers to get their expertise? Obviously not. Who then? Wikipedia?

    What if your doctor prescribed some medicine for you, and the medicine killed you? Does that mean you made a mistake?
    Oct 9 07:34 PM | 11 Likes Like |Link to Comment
  • Welcome To The Collapse Of 2011 [View article]
    There is a lot of truth in this, but it is doubtful whether it will change, because of vested interests.

    A few weeks ago I was sitting under a tree on a plastic chair at a public beach in the Dominican Republic getting a pedicure from a young woman who did an excellent job for $15.

    I asked her about her experience and qualifications and she said she went on a course for a few weeks and got a certificate to show she had completed the course. The course was free, paid for by the government. There was no need to pay for any kind of annual registration fee or professional license. She was making a living and supporting herself and her family.

    Well, can you imagine in the United States of Regulations and Pettifogging Rules? For a start she would not be allowed to carry out her business on a public beach without applying and paying through the nose for numerous permits, getting documents notarized, references from several people, providing photographs and fingerprints, and so on. Next she would not be allowed to do feet without the say-so of the State Board of Semi-Professional Toe Nail Specialists administering an exam and collecting another annual fee. And so it goes on. Just to break even she would have to charge $25 per foot.

    Mutiply this by thousands of different job categories, and you have the US today.
    Sep 22 06:04 PM | 11 Likes Like |Link to Comment
  • S&P Downgrades U.S. to AA+ - We're Tied With Belgium! [View article]
    One of the main differences betweeen Colgate Palmolive and USA Inc. is that the Colgate Palmolive board of directors does not have a significant faction who effectively voted for default last week.

    Although the downgrade is partly about the numbers, the most shocking part of the S&P preamble is the fact that it no longer regards the USA as sufficiently politically stable to merit AAA status, no doubt as a result of the amazing shenanigans over the last couple of weeks in which the Republican majority in the House was forced to form a coalition with Democrats in order to defeat a significant tranche of nominal Republicans who had rabidly attacked their own party and effectively voted for default.

    The US media and the Congress have tried very hard to suppress news of this attack on Harper´s Ferry with bipartisan claims that ¨the process is working¨. This is a bit like saying that your dog is a good guard dog and would not have bitten the mailman save for the rabies.

    Clearly this has not passed by the keen observers at S&P.

    On the other hand, on the face of it, it seems unlikely that the US is about to stop accepting Federal Reserve Bills, which have ¨In God We Trust¨ written on them as a kind of backup authority in case of terrestrial failure.

    Clearly while the US will continue to try to purchase immunity from Acts of God, it is going to have to pay Mammon his fare share also.

    So this could all be a ¨good cop/bad cop´´ routine in which S&P has been set up to intimidate the rebel members of the board of directors into accepting higher taxes. One should not forget that politics is utterly corrupt and that what is presented for public consumption is probably just a Punch and Judy show that in no way reflects the true decision making process.

    On the positive side, we are now equal with Belgium, so we should be getting an overdue upgrade to our beer and chocolate.
    Aug 6 04:47 AM | 11 Likes Like |Link to Comment
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