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Slam Dunks Fuel Market ... But Are We Winning The Game? By Charles Payne

2/2/2012 7:54:37 AM Eastern Time

Question of the Day

Mark Zuckerberg will be worth about $30.0 billion, will that change him, could anyone stay the "same" with that kind of net worth?

Click here to post your answer and let Charles know what you think.

Happy Birthday, Cherie!

This is a huge week for sports; with the Super Bowl looming on Sunday there have been amazing highlights from the NBA. As he entered the league, I already told everyone Blake Griffin is my new favorite player (Tim Duncan was my favorite before and will always show love) because he is so ferocious on the court. Yet, I also read a peace on his relationship and respect for his brother who hasn't made the NBA yet and plays ball abroad.

This kid has the heart in more ways than one. This week he had a dunk that many are already calling the best ever (I'm not going that far), but it came just a day after Lebron yoked the ball while jumping over another player.

While records tend to stand for years, even decades in sports, the highlight reel makes the "best" plays an ever-evolving discussion. In the world outside of sports, the same thing happens. In the world of economics, the biggest tend to stay big for long stretches, but the highlight reel shifts around day to day. Yesterday it was strong economic data out of China and Germany that had our stock market standing in applause. In fact, what we're seeing from China and Germany is like watching Blake and LeBron throw it down on a nightly basis. Both countries posted strong manufacturing data that came in above consensus.

Of course, those aren't the only two nations making the economic highlight reel these days. Yesterday we learned Russia's GDP grew 4.3% last year, greater than expected, while imports increased a staggering 21.5%. The nation has made an amazing rebound during this global economic slump as agriculture output surged 16.1%, construction 4.8%, and retail sales 7.2%. While those old European nations not named Germany continue to shoot economic bricks, those BRIC nations are jumping like crazy. Running and gunning for what the west has had forever, but taken for granted, there are a lot of hungry nations whose futures look like slam dunks.

Nobody likes to be posterized with some massive dunk, but it's the lasting legacy of many players from Corzine, victimized by Darryl Dawkins, to Perkins who seems to be on a few posters as the guy watching in vain. We don't have to be that sad sack player. Admittedly, I had to find a way to work in those incredible dunks but think the analogy works.

In the meantime, the best dunk in history came courtesy of Dr. J on Michael Cooper of the Lakers in 1983

The Ultimate Stock Slam Dunk

This Facebook obsession is really amazing. After making it official after the close, there was so much interest that the SEC website crashed for demand to download offering material. The company is a slam dunk that goes beyond human comprehension. It's not the earnings or revenues but the 800 million users that could be twisted, morphed, and manipulated into the ultimate cash machine. Or, it could be the biggest flop in history. But, that wouldn't be acknowledged for a long time, and until then, this company will get free passes and hyperbole will not properly describe reactions to legitimate good news.

(I remember the golden era of Google when the company would announce intentions to try things and the street reacted as if success was inevitable. That hasn't been the case, but the stock is still remarkable even if it's in neutral. Sort of like Ray Allen of the Celtics popping three-pointers but no longer able to make the highlight reel with a testing move in the lane).

Mark Zuckerberg will be a household name even in homes without computers. He is very young and could be the symbol of capitalism but seems to be straddling that line that wants to endorse the collectivist notion that we all owe success to the sidewalks and traffic lights. Of course the collectivism argument is harder since none of his 800 million plus users is getting in on the Facebook IPO unless they are deep-pocketed investors with accounts at evil Wall Street firms. Nonetheless, this could be a seminal moment if Zuckerberg took the initiative. He could sing praises for capitalism, perhaps unleash a much needed wave of embrace among the twenty-something set.

Socialism v Capitalism

Pew Research has just released a fascinating survey on our attitudes about socialism and capitalism. The good news is we are generally repulsed by the word unless we're 29 and younger or Black or Hispanic. This is what 2012 is all about and capitalism needs...

...and this is where we need young heroes to step up and sing the praise while they cash the checks. Mark Zuckerberg is worth more than all the players in the NBA - ever ... combined! He must feel great even if he doesn't care about the money, but the things it can do for mankind. Right now the stock market has found a way to rally on subpar or mediocre news, but there has to be a bona-fide cheerleader for the idea of pulling one's self by the bootstraps. It's wonderful to have an idea or push an idea and turn it into something magnificent. And I'm not talking about a $100.0 billion company, but the local bodega where the owner keeps it spotless and beams with pride when customers approach the counter with a carton of milk.

By the way, many are wondering if officially becoming a billionaire will change Mark Zuckerberg. He serves two constituents now, the young I-hate-money-and-profits crowd, along with investors that want the company to succeed so they can have an easier retirement.

I think he is an ideologue but also loves power which might change him more than the actual cash.

Jobs Look Hopeful
By Carlos Guillen

So far data from the jobs market continues to demonstrate that the employment situation is slowly improving. According to the Labor Department, initial claims during the week ended January 28 totaled 367K, which decreased from the 379K revised figure reported for the prior week and landed below the Street's estimate of 375K. The four-week moving average of insured unemployment for the week ended January 21 totaled 3,528K, representing a decrease of 43.0K week to week. It is becoming apparent that companies are slowing down in their workforce reductions, with some exceptions of course, like that of American Air lines set to lay off 13,000 employees, but the jobs situation is becoming a bit more hopeful and heading in the right direction.

Challenger Gray
By David Urani

The Challenger Gray & Christmas layoff report says there were 53,486 planned layoffs in January, spiking up from 41,785 in December, and the highest in four months. The first thing to note is that layoffs tend to spike higher in January, which is typically the worst month. Yet, last January there were just 38,519 layoffs and the overall picture for the past several months has looked worse than a year ago. Retail store closings and banker layoffs were the main drivers of the increase.