It certainly has been an interesting few weeks, especially in the political arena. One situation I thought I would bring up is the White House has now been shut for visitors to tour. The decision was made in an effort to cut costs by the federal government. Our country is now going to deny little kids and tourists the right to tour the White House because its own spending discipline has been so lax. The trivial nature of this decision strikes at the heart of why people find our government so, shall we say, questionable. Our government does nothing about the serious problems of entitlement spending, waste in the military, and plenty of other spending travesties (GSA Scandal, Fast and Furious, etc), but closing the White House for tourists is going to help solve the problem of wasteful spending. If I remember correctly, Mitt Romney was demonized for bringing up Big Bird and PBS. Let's also point out the taxpayers pay for the White House, so the idea it should be closed for tourists is really a poor decision.
Next, lets certainly mention the speech Mr. Obama gave in Chicago outlining his plans to create a $2 billion dollar trust fund to research and develop alternatives to fossil fuels-http://www.technologyreview.com/view/512571/obama-stumps-for-energy-research-through-trust-fund/
If you are involved in business in any industry, you have to really give some hard thought to what Obama is proposing. What he wants to do is use the government licensing and permitting revenue sources on the energy industry to fund research to reduce the dependence on oil and gas in the United States. If I am an oil or gas industry executive, you would have to shake your head and think, "I'm not going for that." Any industry could be vulnerable to a government which would tax the businesses in an industry in order to create a situation where those businesses lose customers. Why would any company want that? Alternative energy is trying to become more cost competitive to fossil fuels, and private businesses are going to make a huge effort to do so because there is potentially a great deal of profit available. However, the idea of taking off shore permits and licenses as a way to fund government research to do so strikes me as vindictive at worst, petty at best. In addition, realistically, it wouldn't happen for another 50 years, even in the most optimistic of scenarios. Good luck with that one Obama, your going to need it.
Another situation our president is involved in is the Keystone pipeline decision, which should take place by the end of the year. I would wager he will decide against approving the pipeline. The group who will lose the most from the decision will be the citizens in North America, mainly U.S. and Canadians. The bottlenecks which are taking place in the energy industry can only be relieved by transportation methods to move feedstock of oil to refineries, many which are located in logistically ideal areas near transportation hubs. Typically, they are in coastal areas, the west coast, gulf coast, and east coast. Canada badly needs transportation to move fuel, and one way or another, they are going to build these methods at some point. Ultimately, it may be that Asian countries will benefit from these efforts, as opposed to the U.S.
Finally, on the political front, the Iran situation with nuclear weapons and Israel is continuing to move to the front stage. Iran has been dramatically weakened by financial sanctions, a devaluation of their own currency, and the loss of strength in Syria. Still, when you consider the statements made by their leaders about wiping Israel off the map, the seriousness of Iran is not at all a small issue. Israel is not going to stand by and be at the mercy of radical leaders. If Obama will not stand by a military strike by Israel, and he has no history of showing the will do do so, Israel will go it alone. As they should. http://worldnews.nbcnews.com/_news/2013/03/17/17306968-on-the-brink-israel-to-grill-obama-over-possible-military-strike-on-iran?lite&ocid=msnhp&pos=
The stock market went up 10 days in a row as investors certainly are more inclined to give equities the benefit of the doubt. However, what took place in Cyprus over the weekend is probably going to have some implications about how people continue to view the banking system, especially in Europe. The world is incredibly interconnected, and with information available so quickly, events move markets in a very rapid manner. The volatile nature of markets only becomes more pronounced when anyone can find out everything they want to know about almost any subject. It does not mean you cannot find situations which offer great value. In fact, in most markets volatility becomes an investors best friend as it can help create great prices for very valuable assets. The important questions are can you find these situations, what price are you willing to pay for them, do you have the nerve and judgment to buy them, and do you have the patience and stomach to hold them if the market continues to price them in a way you don't necessarily agree with? These are the key issues which make investing interesting, and potentially difficult, or rewarding.
I find it very interesting that the guys who are essentially the creators of the efficient market hypothesis seek to profit from market inefficiencieshttp://www.nytimes.com/2013/03/17/your-money/david-booth-of-dfa-using-the-chicago-schools-theory.html?ref=business&_r=0
If you are involved in business, reinvesting in the business in a productive way is a key to creating growth-http://www3.cfo.com/article/2013/3/cash-flow_growth-investments-performance-scorecards-reinvestment-rate
Are venture capitalists going to be threatened by crowd funding? Definitely an intriguing possibility-http://techcrunch.com/2013/03/17/is-software-eating-the-venture-capitalists-too-part-i/
Thank you for reading the blog this week, and I hope you are enjoying the spring weather, wherever you may be.
Y H & C Investments, Yale Bock, and the family of Yale Bock own positions in securities mentioned in the blog post. Investing in stocks can lead to the complete loss of your capital. As always, on any company mentioned here, past performance is not a guarantee of future returns. Investing involves risk of losses on invested capital. One should research any investment and make sure it is suitable with your objectives, risk tolerance, risk profile liquidity considerations, tax situation, and anything else pertinent to your financial situation. Also, the CFA credential in no way implies investment returns will be superior for any charter holder.