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  • Late Tuesday, Microsoft (MSFT) raised its quarterly dividend by $0.03 to $0.16, and said it would borrow up to $6B in short- and long-term debt, saying the move "reflects our commitment to returning capital to our shareholders and our confidence in the long-term growth of the company" - which it has done to the tune of $170B over the last 10 years.  [View news story]
    Microsoft is borrowing at historically low rates to reduce float. That's smart business.

    What does being a Republican or Democrat have to do with this, anyway?
    Sep 22, 2010. 04:41 PM | 1 Like Like |Link to Comment
  • The 9 Elite Dividend Stocks of 2010 [View article]
    Interestingly, these stocks do beat the market. You might not have as much fun doing so, but you'll be under less stress, too.
    Sep 22, 2010. 03:44 PM | 8 Likes Like |Link to Comment
  • President Obama receives just 30% approval in Bloomberg's Global poll, roughly in-line with equally uninspiring French counterpart Sarkozy and Japan's Kan. Chinese President Hu Jintao's economic policies were viewed favorably by 58%, while Germany's Markel garned a sky-high 70% favorability rating among investors.  [View news story]
    Perhaps the polled investors like Germany's universal health care, strong trade unions, and high taxes. Now that I think about it, maybe Merkel does deserve her high marks!

    I find it funny that so many approve of China's "socialism with Chinese characteristics." Did investors recently hear that China will soon unveil its twelfth Five-Year Plan? Five-Year Plans sound so, oh, I don't know, Stalinish. Of course, the current crop of technocrats are much smarter than Stalin or Mao, but a Five-Year Plan is a Five-Year Plan. So much for the empty talk about wanting free markets.
    Sep 22, 2010. 03:15 PM | 4 Likes Like |Link to Comment
  • Even a rabid revolutionary like Lenin knew how to pretend to be flexible when necessary, Steve Forbes writes, and so it will go with Obama - surprising us by extending the Bush tax cuts to help win re-election in 2012 so "he can go back to his intensely felt mission to increase government power over the economy and the 'rich.'"  [View news story]
    Steve Forbes should be grateful that he won the genetic lottery and keep his ignorant mouth shut. If not for his grandfather and father, he would not be complaining about tax cuts expiring because he would not be rich.
    Sep 22, 2010. 12:01 AM | 5 Likes Like |Link to Comment
  • Charlie Munger's (BRK.A) remarks defending bailouts and saying that people in economic distress should “suck it in and cope" are not only "arrogant" and "insensitive" but wrong, Mish Shedlock writes. The bailout "made too big to fail, too bigger to fail... We preserved a culture that benefits billionaires like Munger and greedy CEOs that helped cause this mess."  [View news story]
    There was systemic risk. AIG's collapse would have brought down all the reinsurance companies. Do you think insurance companies are going to insure anything if they cannot offload some of the risk to the reinsurance companies? If insurance companies cannot buy reinsurance, then they would not take on new risk. How would that have gone for business?

    I'm not saying that Bush's bailout went well, and I share your disdain for the big banks, but to say that there was no systemic risk is incorrect.

    By the way, Munger is awesome.
    Sep 21, 2010. 04:49 PM | 1 Like Like |Link to Comment
  • A majority of Americans want the government to cut the budget deficit even in hard economic times and believe that closing the fiscal gap would create jobs, a new poll shows.  [View news story]
    To help Social Security, do a majority of Americans want an increase in the retirement age and the removal of the income cap on the FICA tax?

    To help Medicare, do a majority of Americans want an increase in the age of Medicare eligibility to match the retirement age? Do they want fewer benefits, or would they be talking about death panels?

    Do a majority of Americans want the government to cut the wasteful, bloated defense budget (Republicans especially love this flavor of pork)?

    Any realistic effort to cut the budget deficit would require reform of all three, which consume the lion's share of the budget and do not contribute to job growth (other than the military-industrial complex). Government spending on infrastructure, scientific research, and development of new technologies and industries, however, does contribute to job growth.

    Until I see polls favoring meaningful entitlement reform and cutting the defense budget along with cutting spending in general, then I will continue to believe that a majority of Americans are unrealistic at best and stupid at worst.
    Sep 21, 2010. 04:08 PM | 2 Likes Like |Link to Comment
  • Aug. Housing Starts: +10.5% to 598K vs. 545K expected and 541K (revised from 544K) last month. Permits +1.8% to 569K vs. 560K expected and 559K last month.  [View news story]
    The homebuilders must want to pad their inventories.
    Sep 21, 2010. 08:44 AM | 2 Likes Like |Link to Comment
  • Deflation Again a No-Show [View article]
    The absence of deflation is the product of central bank intervention. It's not the dog that didn't bark--its the dog that was muzzled.
    Sep 17, 2010. 12:05 PM | Likes Like |Link to Comment
  • Deflation Is Still a No-Show [View article]
    Do you know why money is not in short supply? Because the Fed, fearing deflation, has flooded the market with money. Had the Fed not increased the money supply, both of your conditions for a deflationary depression, weak demand and a shortage of money, would be present. That would have been fun.
    Sep 16, 2010. 01:53 PM | 1 Like Like |Link to Comment
  • Why Oil Will Sink to $20-$40 Per Barrel [View article]
    It is pointless to predict the price of oil. Few commodities are subject to more manipulation and speculation. There is little logic, rhyme, or reason to the price of oil--it is what it is. To me, a price of $30 is as (un)believable as the current price or $150.
    Sep 15, 2010. 12:50 PM | 4 Likes Like |Link to Comment
  • Last month's budget deficit came in at $90.5B, the U.S. Treasury says, less than expected and smaller than the year-ago gap. But Zero Hedge points out that the comparable increase in debt was $212B, vs. $143.6B a year ago, and that the U.S. continues to issue 50% more debt than needed to merely fund its deficit.  [View news story]
    Graham and Dodd Investor hit the nail on the head. I don't see how issuing 50% more debt than needed is a bad thing at such low rates. If people were lining up money in hand to give you loans on such favorable terms, wouldn't you take it? It's smart business, and plenty of companies are doing the same.
    Sep 13, 2010. 11:45 PM | 1 Like Like |Link to Comment
  • It is possible to be concerned about potential deflation and still invest in stocks, Mark Hulbert writes, but you should shift some equity holdings into the consumer staples and health care sectors. It also would be wise to shun small-caps in favor of large-cap stocks with the lowest debt-to-equity ratios, he says.  [View news story]
    Large caps stocks in the consumer staples and health care sectors with the lowest debt-to-equity ratios are above-average investments in just about any market.
    Sep 8, 2010. 03:27 PM | 3 Likes Like |Link to Comment
  • Obama's Loss Is the Economy's Gain [View article]
    Wow. You make Kudlow sound like a commie.

    Thanks for the laughs.
    Sep 6, 2010. 11:56 PM | 4 Likes Like |Link to Comment
  • 4 Reasons to Sell Dividend Stocks [View article]
    Don't let it drive you to distraction. Merely smile smugly knowing that you invest more wisely than the traders.
    Aug 26, 2010. 09:08 PM | 4 Likes Like |Link to Comment
  • Wal-Mart (WMT +1.8%) shareholders may be pleased but many of its customers will get a rude awakening once they realize that price rollbacks have ended. But other than returning to "everyday low prices," CFO Tom Schoewe's comments indicate that its only strategy is to ride out the economy.  [View news story]
    Maybe Wal-Mart has finally cut its margins to the bone. It had to happen sometime.

    I'm not sure about Wal-Mart's "everyday" low prices, though--I've always saved more at Kroger and Safeway for groceries and at Target for many other items.
    Aug 17, 2010. 02:19 PM | 1 Like Like |Link to Comment