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  • Mortgage Fraud - The Root of America's Economic Malaise [View article]
    This statement is not true: "the American character has become corrupt. The moral backbone of the country has turned to jelly. Anything goes, there is no more right or wrong, the dollar is the only measure of success in life."

    Or perhaps more accurately, it has always been true - since long before the caveman stepped out of his cave. The difference over the past decade has been that government has made it so easy to defraud - in many cases actually encouraging it.

    And they not only encouraged it, they then turned around and blamed "all the usual suspects" - which is anyone but their constituents. Even now, in the face of massive fraud evidence, the government continues to ignore it - and perpetuate it with yet more schemes such as huge tax breaks. Mortgage fraud has become so common because there are no consequences anymore.
    Dec 27 11:36 AM | 10 Likes Like |Link to Comment
  • Success in 2010 Requires Investing in Other Countries [View article]
    I think that is the main reason for me to look at putting a lot higher percentage of my porfolio into foreign. The current adminstration does not even seem to have an entrance strategy for the economic problems, much less an exit strategy.

    It's easy to bash banks, it is much harder to actually come up with a viable plan and implement it. Currently, I think the biggest problem is uncertainty - with the possibilty of large tax increases and health care mandates in the future, it makes it very difficult for a business to plan out what to do. That may not be a bad thing for profit margins - companies seem have gotten a lot leaner - but it might be a recovery that leaves 15-20% of the population behind for a decade.

    On Dec 26 02:05 PM ed233 wrote:

    > This article makes sense from several fronts. When you consider the
    > US administration's approach to economic problem solving and given
    > the unusual lack of business credentials underlying the Obama regime
    > one cannot help but see severe head winds. With no planned approach
    > for small businesses it seems difficult to see how is it possible
    > for the US businessman to survive with frozen credit.
    Dec 27 11:08 AM | 2 Likes Like |Link to Comment
  • Charles Hugh Smith says interest rates, artifically suppressed by the Fed and by China, are about to start rising, and will continue rising for a generation.  [View news story]
    Perhaps Mr. Smith has not noticed that when interest rates are at zero, there is no way to go but up, unless you pay people to borrow your money.
    Dec 26 02:53 PM | 2 Likes Like |Link to Comment
  • Permits to spew carbon-dioxide into the atmosphere fell by $3.30 between the first day of the Copenhagen climate summit and the day after its disappointing conclusion. The decline suggests that despite years of diplomatic efforts, the real world still operates as if people can spew carbon more or less at will.  [View news story]
    Those conferences are really nothing more than a rallying point for weird looking protesters. Not sure why they bother to hold them anymore.

    Trying to get almost 200 nations - most with the GDP of Boise Idaho or less - in an exercise in insanity. Obama has apparently decided that he no longer wants the US to be a leader in anything, so don't look for any leadership coming out of Washington.

    Much of the rhetoric coming out of Copenhagen was just pure sillyness - long rambling speeches by the likes of Chavez, 6th world countries claiming to have already been devastated by a rise in sea levels, and much pontificating by all.
    Dec 26 02:48 PM | 1 Like Like |Link to Comment
  • How the Senate Bill Would Change Healthcare [View article]
    They are calling health "insurance" - but it is not insurance. Insurance is to cover larger risks, never every sniffle or scratch you might get, for "free".
    Dec 26 01:36 AM | 3 Likes Like |Link to Comment
  • Why Health Insurance Stocks Are Poor Bets [View article]
    Never underestimate the stupidity of congress. Never.

    The Evil Insurance Companies are the current whipping boys. There is no way of telling for sure if in some superficial populist fit of rage that congress will not add something to the bill that will drive them out of business.
    Dec 26 01:30 AM | 2 Likes Like |Link to Comment
  • Success in 2010 Requires Investing in Other Countries [View article]
    Yes, there are always bubbles. Almost none are truly recognized until they burst. That is why you have to pay attention and be prepared to get out if things go horribly wrong. And it is why buy and hold may not be the best policy for now (or ever). Things like trailing stop loss or even inverse ETF's can be your friend, if used right. There is risk in everything, except perhaps cash sitting in an insured bank account - which are now paying an average of around .02% interest, and have lost 1.8% from inflation this year.

    If you are thinking to pick a country or sector that looks good, plop a pile of money into it and come back in a few years, you may not do too good.

    On Dec 25 11:11 PM Philly Jim wrote:

    > Anyone else concerned we are going to see the bubble of all bubbles
    > pop in 2010-2011? Easy money has been inflating assets in Asia ('06-'09)
    > the same way it was inflating assets in the West from '02-'06. At
    > least we will know what to expect when the spicket turns off.
    Dec 26 12:41 AM | 2 Likes Like |Link to Comment
  • Success in 2010 Requires Investing in Other Countries [View article]
    I think you have the wrong take on what market timing is. If I see, for example, that Brazil is growing at 7%, and they are starting up 60 new widget factories that will need 4 trillion tons of coal, it is not timing to figure that there might be an upswing in coal demand.

    You seem to think that assett allocation is apart and different from that, but there is no reason you would not have both - in fact you would probably be silly not to.

    On Dec 25 07:38 PM Robert.from.Ct wrote:

    > Roger,please tell me where I can buy a crystal ball like the one
    > you have?? Trying to beat the market is a FOOLS GAME....Its all about
    > ASSET ALLOCATION and NOT TRYING to time the markets...READ Larry
    > Swedroes books
    Dec 26 12:31 AM | 4 Likes Like |Link to Comment
  • Early readings from Toys R Us, Sears (SHLD) and several mall operators show packed stores on Christmas Eve following a busy week fueled by shoppers who delayed.  [View news story]
    Walmart was packed on the 24th, but I saw mostly groceries and small item purchases, so who knows.
    Dec 26 12:24 AM | Likes Like |Link to Comment
  • Andrew S. Ross wonders if things can go back to the way they were: "I don't know whether buying less, saving more, 'value-based retail,' 'just-in-time employment' are features of a generational shift - a new Age of Less, if you like - or whether old habits die harder than prognosticators think."  [View news story]
    Well, prognosticators tend to put their own views on the rest of the population, so expect many of the old habits to come back. Many of those "habits" seem to be some kind of ingrained human need - whether for status, desire to be part of a group, or whatever. And the simple fact is, a lot of the buying that people do is not need based, it is based on emotion of some type. There is no new age of less once the jobs come back (assuming they do...).
    Dec 26 12:22 AM | Likes Like |Link to Comment
  • Success in 2010 Requires Investing in Other Countries [View article]
    While some of China still looks good - for now - I definately think that some Chinese RE is at or near a bubble. Being that China is not the most transparent society in the world some caution as to statistics are in order. Of course you have to assume that almost anything that any government or major financial organization anywhere says might not be quite true.

    On Dec 25 12:45 PM HH123 wrote:

    > The price rent ratio in major cities in China is near 500. Is this
    > not a bubble waiting to burst? US has its challenges, but so do China
    > and other countries.
    Dec 25 12:56 PM | 2 Likes Like |Link to Comment
  • Success in 2010 Requires Investing in Other Countries [View article]
    Just came across an interesting chart here

    While not all inclusive or all knowing, it does seem to show that a definate lemming pattern has not yet developed except in Long Bonds, some are getting pretty close. For example sentiment in several sectors is 7 out of 9. While predictions are often wrong (be afraid.. be VERY afraid...) the most dangerous time seems to be when everyone agrees, and we are not quite there yet. But it is getting close in some areas. That is only one chart, there are others, and you would have to look at more than one - Google is your friend.
    Dec 25 12:10 PM | Likes Like |Link to Comment
  • Success in 2010 Requires Investing in Other Countries [View article]
    I have not seen that much herd-ism here on SA, unless you would call getting more geographically and sector diversified following the herd.

    Personally, I am betting that the $US will go down, but not as much as it did in 2009. My main worry about US equities is that the increasing taxes and regulations will make US companies less and less competitive. The US seems to be entering some kind of "Euro Phase", where the government is all things to all people, no matter the cost. That may change if public sentiment gets mad enough to start threatening the electibility of congress critters, but that is still an unknown factor.

    Someone noted "low entitlement countries" - I think those will grow more than US and Euro economies in 2010. I also think there are still a lot of good places to put money in the US - but most of them will not be in what was hottest in 2009. Look for sectors that underperformed in 2008-2009.

    I am still about 50-50 on commodities. I am not going into any of the futures or futures ETF's, but am looking at several "suppliers" - miners, drillers, tree cutters, etc. Some things like Copper are looking a bit bubbly, but prices seem to keep going up.

    There is always the chance of a major correction or crash, no matter where or what the market is - but that is what stop-loss orders are for. People don't use them near enough.

    On Dec 25 10:49 AM sethmcs wrote:

    > Since the herd is moving overseas for greener pastures I will take
    > a different path. Small caps in the USA. I am not opposed to foreign
    > investing and in fact the only mutual fund I own (I am a stock picker)
    > is TEI. Templeton is the only fund I trust to do foreign investing.
    > I don't know enough about it to do it myself. Did anyone ever notice
    > that historically anytime a foreign country makes large investments
    > in the USA they get burned? They usually buy at the top and sell
    > at the bottom. What makes investors in the USA think they can do
    > better overseas?
    Dec 25 11:56 AM | 4 Likes Like |Link to Comment
  • Success in 2010 Requires Investing in Other Countries [View article]
    They may, but just as in any collapse there is always the option of going to cash. My single biggest mistake in 2008 was not paying enough attention, I won't make that mistake again. If you watch what is going on you can limit your losses. And in my opinion, anyone that puts all their eggs in one sector is likely to end up with mutant chickens.

    On Dec 24 11:52 PM Paul H. M. wrote:

    > Emerging markets will probably have several spectacular collapses
    > (like the U.S. in the late 1800's and early 1900's), so it might
    > not be wise to put your money into them in the middle of a bubble.
    Dec 25 12:20 AM | 1 Like Like |Link to Comment
  • Why Health Insurance Stocks Are Poor Bets [View article]
    That sector is pretty volatle right now, and rightly so. Nobody really knows what the final bill will be, or even if there will be a final bill. Public sentiment generally is opposed to it, and there is a chance (though small) that some senators might flip on it when assaulted with rotten eggs back home.

    If you think the Senate process was messy, wait until you see what happens when they try to merge it with the House version.
    Dec 25 12:15 AM | 6 Likes Like |Link to Comment