Debt

Market Week Wrap-up

– Leading global equity indices continued floating upwards this week while the inflation drumbeat just kept getting louder. In the US, the January y/y CPI figure hit +1.6%, its highest level since last spring, and some analysts were alarmed by higher food prices creeping into CPI data sooner than expected. China’s January CPI report was lower than expected at +4.9% y/y, but markets panned the figures as heavily massaged by basket revisions. In the UK, the BoE said CPI would likely continue growing at a 4-5% clip over the short term. The World Bank released a report indicating that food prices were up 15% since October 2010 and are now only 3% away from record highs hit in 2008. Commodities moves complicated the story somewhat. While silver has pushed out to 30-year highs, there were signs that inflated soft commodity prices were beginning to unwind, with cotton and grain prices both below recent highs. Crude and gold prices have been impacted by reports that Iran is sending warships through the Suez Canal and bloody protests in Bahrain (next door to Saudi Arabia), although WTI futures were well below recent highs seen in early February. The Obama Administration unveiled its $3.73T budget proposal for 2012, including an all-time high deficit of $1.65T, reflecting the tax-cut agreement reached with Republicans in December. For 2012, the administration sees the imbalance declining to $1.1T, giving the country a record four straight years of one trillion-plus deficits. Bond prices held steady after the details were released, and Congress sharpened its knives for a budget fight. The Feb Empire Manufacturing survey hit its highest level since last June, indicating that the US manufacturing expansion seen over the last several months is continuing. On Friday there was plenty of commentary out of the G20 conference, where leaders tried mightily to achieve some concrete steps in reforming the global monetary system. Fed Chairman Bernanke took a swipe at the Chinese in his policy address to the G20, warning that nations which keep currency values low create imbalances, while the PBoC’s Zhou continued to push for a higher profile for the IMF’s Special Drawing Rights (SDRs). For the week, the DJIA rose 1.0%, the Nasdaq gained 0.9% and the S&P500 was up 1.0%. – John Deere crushed earnings and revenue targets in its Q1 report and nearly doubled its guidance for FY11 equipment sales. The firm hiked its sales guidance for its key agriculture and construction units as well, and said its Q2 revenue would blow out consensus estimates. Later in the week Caterpillar released very favorable dealer metrics for the month of January, with North America machinery sales up a whopping 58% y/y in the month. – Iron ore miner Cliffs Natural Resources reported very strong Q4 profits on a big y/y gain in iron ore pricing. The company expects global steel production to continue to grow in 2011, although it warned that spot iron ore prices are unsustainably high. Reliance Steel also blew out earnings estimates, and said pricing would remain strong at least through the first quarter of 2011. – In tech, Dell’s profit was way ahead of the consensus in its Q4 report, thanks to a big improvement in margins. The company said it believes the corporate IT…

Continue Reading »

The Incredible Shrinking Middle Class

Filed in BP, Debt, economy, Ford, Gold, GOld juniors, inflation, Lear, o, recession, silver by on February 16, 2011 0 Comments
The Incredible Shrinking Middle Class

Here’s a copy of the chart of the day.As you might have suspected, the rich get richer while everyone else basically gets to tread water. The article that follows once again drives home a point I have been harping on for years now: The Middle Class in a state of terminal decline. And when it vanishes for good, America will be a very different place. If you ask me, in a lot of ways it already is…. From CNNMONEY by Annalyn Censky entitled: How the middle class became the underclass “ Are you better off than your parents? Probably not if you’re in the middle class. Incomes for 90% of Americans have been stuck in neutral, and it’s not just because of the Great Recession. Middle-class incomes have been stagnant for at least a generation, while the wealthiest tier has surged ahead at lighting speed. In 1988, the income of an average American taxpayer was $33,400, adjusted for inflation. Fast forward 20 years, and not much had changed: The average income was still just $33,000 in 2008, according to IRS data. Experts point to some of the usual suspects — like technology and globalization — to explain the widening gap between the haves and have-nots. One major pull on the working man was the decline of unions and other labor protections, said Bill Rodgers, a former chief economist for the Labor Department, now a professor at Rutgers University. International competition is another factor. While globalization has lifted millions out of poverty in developing nations, it hasn’t exactly been a win for middle class workers in the U.S. Factory workers have seen many of their jobs shipped to other countries where labor is cheaper, putting more downward pressure on American wages. “As we became more connected to China, that poses the question of whether our wages are being set in Beijing,” Rodgers said. Finding it harder to compete with cheaper manufacturing costs abroad, the U.S. has emerged as primarily a services-producing economy. That trend has created a cultural shift in the job skills American employers are looking for. As a result, the disparity between the wages for college educated workers versus high school grads has widened significantly since the 1980s. In 1980, workers …

Continue Reading »

Gold, Silver, Copper, Nickel and the Slow Death of Money

Gold, Silver, Copper, Nickel and the Slow Death of Money

A huge opportunity to hedge against both inflation and deflation is lying out there in the open. There are no transaction costs and right now there’s even a built-in discount. But most people will never realize any of this. In 1933 President Franklin Delano Roosevelt signed Executive Order 6102, which made it illegal for U.S. citizens to hold gold bullion. Prior to that, the $20 bill was essentially a warehouse receipt for a one-ounce gold coin. Prior to the Federal Reserve Act of 1914, the $20 bill actually told you this. After Executive Order 6102, $20 notes weren’t allowed to be exchanged for gold anymore. Americans couldn’t legally own or trade gold as money and savings, only as jewelry or collectible coins. A year after making monetary gold ownership illegal, FDR revalued gold from $20.67 per ounce to $35 an ounce with the Gold Reserve Act. The Act also required all gold and gold certificates to be turned over to the Treasury. The dollar was debased. A chunk of the gold it used to be good for was legally removed. Instead of  “containing” 1/20 an ounce of gold, each dollar now only contained (or represented) 1/35 an ounce. And of course you couldn’t actually own the gold itself. In 1971 Nixon severed the last official ties between gold and the dollar. The dollar quickly sunk to its real value, which had been debased by years of money supply inflation. By 1975 Americans were allowed to own bullion gold again, but during the roughly 40 years bullion gold ownership had been illegal, the dollar had been drastically debased. At its former lowest point in the summer of 1980, the dollar …

Continue Reading »

Three Garbage Stocks

Three Garbage Stocks

The market goes up everyday… This two-year chart represents the thirty varsity players on the U.S. economic court. You might look at this 100% gain in two years and think that this bull market is overdue for a correction. But don’t worry. Uncle Ben, our fair Chairman over at the United States Federal Reserve, has it all in hand. This is not the time to fret over debt, inflation, taxes, or unemployment… Don’t fight the Fed This market is simple. The Fed is pumping liquidity into the market at an unprecedented rate. There is an old Wall Street platitude that says “Don’t Fight the Fed.” It means you buy stocks when interest rates are dropping and sell when they are going up. The current Fed fund rate is at 0.25%. It can’t get much lower, and no one expects them to hike rates in the near future. What are you waiting for… zero percent? People heed the Bernanke It looks like folks just like you and me are putting the hard times behind them… The adjusted retail numbers for December showed $380.9 billion in sales, an increase of 0.6 percent from the previous month, and 7.9 percent above December 2009. Total sales for 2010 were up 6.6 percent. For the fourth quarter, they were up 7.8 percent. Car sales jumped 14.7 percent over last year. For non-store retailers like Amazon, sales jumped 15 percent. The unofficial numbers for January show a 4.1 percent gain from a year ago. This is great stuff. Amazon investors liked it so much that the company now trades at twice the price it did during the dot-com bubble in 1999. Amazing. ~~SIGNUP_WD~~ The screen It’s a good idea to screen for stocks at least once a week. I generally screen for low P/E, small market capitalization, and good dividend. From there, I go through the list and look for red flags and growth potential. I like the companies that are under $250 million in market value, with high future growth and fat margins. I also look at debt ratios. I call these “garbage stocks” because they ain’t for widows and orphans, but they tend to run under the right circumstances. Today, three companies in the retail sector popped up on my screen. All three shared my garbage stock credentials. And they have something else in common: They cater to the petite bourgeois. They are Books-A-Million (NASDAQ: BAMM), Collectors Universe (NASDAQ: CLCT), and CPI Corp. (NYSE: CPY). The merchant of Wal-Mart All of these companies sell products to the middle class, but none of their products are necessities… Books-A-Million runs 223 discount bookstores in the Southeastern United States. Collectors Universe provides third-party authentication, grading, and related services for rare collectibles like coins, trading cards, and sports memorabilia. CPI runs Wal-Mart Portrait Studios and PictureMe Portrait Studios. BAMM has a market cap of $92 million and a trailing P/E of 6.62. The company had a negative revenue growth of 5.5% year over year, but it does pay a fat 5.2% dividend. (They could also be a beneficiary of Barnes and Noble going bankrupt.) CLCT has a market cap of $109.34 million, a P/E of 6.6, gross margins of 60%, quarterly revenue growth of 8%, and a dividend yield of 9%. CPY has a market cap of $152 million, a P/E of 8.06, 8% margins, a flat quarterly revenue growth, and a 5.10% dividend yield. …

Continue Reading »

How Savings and Investment Increase an Economy’s Output

Filed in BP, Debt, deflation, economy, interest-rates, Lear, o, silver, Spot Gold, target, US Dollar by on February 14, 2011 0 Comments

Everyone who has held a job and a bank account understands the potential benefit of postponing consumption today in order to enjoy greater consumption in the future. However, many people — if pressed — would explain this increase in saver’s income by an offsetting reduction in the income of a borrower in the economy. This is certainly a possibility. For example, if Bill (the borrower) forgets his lunch money on Monday, he might ask his coworker Sally (the saver), “Can you lend me $10 and I’ll pay you back $11 tomorrow?”  If Sally agrees, then it is clear that her $1 in interest on the personal loan was paid out of Bill’s reduced income for that month. In other words, if Bill’s take-home pay that month were $5,000, then he would actually only have $4,999 to work with, because of his $1 expenditure in “buying a loan” from Sally. At the same time, if Sally’s normal paycheck were also $5,000, then this particular month she would actually have $5,001 to work with, after earning $1 in providing “lending services” to Bill. In the scenario above, what basically happened is that Bill financed his consumption with an “advance” made by Sally. On the Monday morning is question, …

Continue Reading »

Out of Egypt: Protests are Headed for America

Filed in BP, Debt, frontline, Gold, Gold Market, inflation, Lear, o, Quantitative Easing by on February 12, 2011 0 Comments
Out of Egypt: Protests are Headed for America

Don’t think that what happened in Egypt can not possibly happen here. Because the truth is when a big swath of the population is no longer served by the festering status quo, they wake up one day and decide not play ball after all. And once that faith is lost, it is gone forever. I actually think we are much closer to that moment than most people would think. You see, I work all day in an office full of 20-somethings. They are a diverse bunch. They’re smart and they work hard. But the one thing they all have in common is they are stuck on a ladder with no where to go. Buried in debt from student loans and various other sources, they are trapped in time unable grab the next rung. Among them the most common refrain is: “I can’t” They would like to further their education…but they can’t. They would like to buy a house…..but they can’t. They would like to buy a car….but they can’t. They would like to have children….but they can’t. There’s more to the list…but you get the picture. Of course, when you look at their list of wants you realize that what they want is no different than what everyone else has wanted at one time or another. The difference is in their world it’s a lot harder to attain—if not impossible in some cases. The reason for this is pretty simple: The cost of their dreams can’t be met with their incomes and adding more debt for them is not much of an option . Everything single thing on their list and then some simply costs too much. As a result, they go without. One day I suspect they will take to the streets. By the way, here’s a great video I found this morning on zerohedge. It’s your life according to the government… The status quo cannot possibly be maintained. Related Articles: Government Run Amok: Unintended Consequences Trouble in Retail: Three Charts from the Frontlines How Uncle Sam Fiddles with the Figures Quantitative Easing For Dummies To learn more about Wealth Daily click here Advertisement Samurai Super Alloy It was the secret ingredient that turned an ordinary sword into the legendary Samurai Katana— the deadliest weapon before the arrival of modern rifles. Today, it’s crucial to the $987billion/year global steel industry… And the world’s supply is quickly running out. Find out how a tiny mining company sitting on one of the last untapped deposits of this metal could hand you 2682% — in the next 12 months! Out of Egypt: Protests are Headed for America originally appeared in Wealth Daily . Wealth Daily is a free daily newsletter featuring contrarian investment insights and commentary.

Continue Reading »

Maxim Integrated Products Worth a Look-See?

Filed in Debt, New Gold, o, Tegra by on February 11, 2011 0 Comments
Maxim Integrated Products Worth a Look-See?

Filed under: Stocks to Buy Maxim Integrated Products ( MXIM ) designs, develops, manufactures and markets a broad range of linear and mixed signal integrated circuits, currently referred to as analog circuits. The company also provides a range of high frequency design processes and capabilities that can be used in custom design. So at a time like this what might make such a company, which competes with Analog Devices ( ADI ) and Texas Instruments ( TXN ) worth a look-see? Well to begin with, it has no short-term debt. That’s right, zero debt. Now add to this a cash balance of $798.34 million . That’s almost $1 billion! Continue reading Maxim Integrated Products Worth a Look-See? Maxim Integrated Products Worth a Look-See? originally appeared on BloggingStocks on Fri, 11 Feb 2011 13:15:00 EST. Please see our terms for use of feeds . Permalink | Email this | Comments

Continue Reading »

How Gold Could Save America from Nazi Theory

Keynesian economics is the root of economic problems for most countries around the world today. So it’s important to understand both what Keynesian economics stands for and what the opposing brand of economic thinking called Classical economics maintains. In a nutshell… Classical Economics: Keynesian Economics: Thrift, hard work, and productivity are virtues. The classical gold standard restrains the state from inflating and provides a stable monetary environment in which the economy can flourish. Government should strive for balanced budgets and fiscal responsibility. The state should adopt a general policy of laissez-faire of non-interventionism in economic affairs: low taxes, free trade, and minimal bureaucracy. Production is more important than consumption. Say’s Law: Supply is more important than demand since supply of one good creates the demand for another. An increase in savings can contract income and reduce economic growth. Consumption is more important than production, thus turning Say’s Law upside down. There is no need for a gold standard; fiat currency is preferable. Demand is more important than supply. Teaches that governments and politicians can be trusted. It’s no wonder politicians love Keynesian economics over Classical economics. To control the economy, most governments around the world have been using Keynesian economics for the past 75 years. It is the only economic thought that is taught in the schools and universities. “They” want us to believe they are wise and intelligent souls who know what is best for us. But nothing could be further from the truth throughout most of economic history… Read this quote from Adolf Hitler, who openly embraced Keynesian ideas: Gold is not necessary. I have no interest in gold. We will build a solid state, without an ounce of gold behind it. Anyone who sells above the set prices, let him be marched off to a concentration camp. That’s the bastion of money. The Nazis’ economic success when Hitler first came into power was a result of Hitler cooking the books. The rest of his time in power goes down in history as one of the worst atrocities in the history of mankind. Only two other twisted power-seeking devils in the annals of time are responsible for the killing of more people than Hitler &mdash…

Continue Reading »

A Self-Employed Carpenter’s Continued Thoughts on the Future

Filed in BP, Debt, deflation, economy, Gold, inflation, Lear, o, silver, US Dollar by on February 11, 2011 0 Comments

My first article on this topic concerned the sharp contraction of the residential construction industry in the U.S. I am a self-employed carpenter. The main thrust of that article was that the housing market is not going to recover to anything approaching its zenith. Bloomberg Business reported in January that housing starts fell again in December to a 529,000 annual rate. The annual rate in a good economy is considered to be a million new homes per year. The recent peak in 2005 was 2 million homes. Nationally, production for the residential construction industry has dropped about 75% off its peak. Inflation, lack of wealth, and rising energy costs preclude any great gains in housing output in the near future. The majority of the skilled construction workers will be doing something other than residential construction in the near future. What is it that we’ll be doing? First off, we are craftsman. “Craftsman” is a mind-set, a personality type. Throughout history, craftsmen have exchanged their labor, skills, and ideas for the expendable wealth of those who have it. That is the ball upon which we need to keep our eye. Many of us will likely still be craftsman in the next economy. The best-run construction companies will be able to get lean enough to live through the hard times and carve out a niche in the new residential construction industry. Most companies and individuals will not make it back. The current overextended financial situation in the U.S. will cause our world to “shrink.” Inflation and sharply rising fuel prices will force a lot of economic activity back down to the community level. Many things that we currently take for granted will become more difficult to obtain. Acquiring food, fuel, heat, and shelter will take on a greater importance in the day-to-day life of the middle class. I’m not talking about the Apocalypse. I’m just saying that things will not be as comfortable as they once were. You and your fellow middle classers will be conducting more business within your neighborhoods and communities. What do we craftsman do in the transition? First of all, keep your hand in the old construction game as long as you can. Do not create new debt for yourself. Do not bid jobs so close to the bone that you have no wiggle room. If something goes awry, and it usually does, you will have either new debt or legal problems. Speaking of new debt, get out of your old debt. The leaner you emerge from this transition period, the better your choices will be. If you have any liquid assets, consider owning some physical silver. Cash will be eaten …

Continue Reading »

Market Wrap-Up for Feb.9 (RL, DIS, AGU, IR, CSC, NYX, NOK, AAPL, more)

Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke was on the hot seat today as he gave his annual Washington presentations. With the markets being significantly higher than they were this time last year, he was certainly feeling better about some of the recent data. Some of his statements pointed to increased evidence that a self-sustaining recovery in consumer and business spending may be taking hold. Also, real consumer spending rose at an annual rate of more than 4 percent in the fourth quarter. There is no question that we have been seeing economic stabilization, and the markets have certainly been pricing stocks as if the lift can be sustained. We actually made some ratings changes this morning, removing four names from our recommended list. We continue to see opportunities in the market, but we are also aware that some names may just not have the risk/reward profile we are searching for, so we need to make changes when we see fit. You can check out the post if you did not read the e-mail alert we sent out to Dividend.com Premium members earlier. The markets were moving sideways early on, but some sellers did show up in certain areas, especially the commodity names. Earnings were in play today with buyers jumping at positive news from Polo Ralph Lauren ( RL ), Walt Disney ( DIS ), Syngenta ( SYT ) and Agrium ( AGU ). On the flip side, it wasn’t a great day for shares of Computer Sciences ( CSC ) or Ingersoll-Rand ( IR ) following both companies’ less-than-stellar results. Also, shares of NYSE Euronext ( NYX ) were halted for some time, but then popped higher when the stock was released for trading on reports the exchange was involved in merger talks with the Deutsche Börse. Interesting story making the rounds this morning about Nokia’s ( NOK ) CEO sending out a reality check memo overnight to everyone in the company. The memo details how the company has lost its way, with rivals Apple ( AAPL ) and Google ( GOOG ) eating their lunch. It’s a real admission that change needs to happen quickly or the company’s future could quickly dim further. I couldn’t help but think of how this relates to the many people that still today have not taken the financial steps to safeguard their later years (whether you are 5,10,20,or 30 …

Continue Reading »

A Self-Employed Carpenter’s Thoughts on the Future

The world is changing. Currently, as a nation, we have a large and well-trained section of our work force dedicated to residential construction. Unemployment within the construction industry now exceeds 20%. That number takes into account only workers getting unemployment compensation. There are also many self-employed individuals, ineligible for unemployment compensation, who have simply run out of customers and work. That is the bad news. Now the worse news: Not only are those jobs not coming back, but the construction industry will continue to diminish for the foreseeable future. The real estate glut is not on hold; it is over. Waiting for its return is similar to waiting for next the big surge in typewriters, 35mm cameras, and home phones. Why are the construction jobs not coming back? There are three main reasons, the first of which is inflation. Decades of credit expansion and the recent printing of money (quantitative easing) have increased the overall volume of our fiat currency: dollars. Therefore, the value of each dollar unit has been reduced, causing prices to rise. This results in increased costs in construction of new homes. Higher new construction costs make staying in and repairing older structures, or renting, more attractive. The second reason is fuel costs. Living rurally and working in urban areas is becoming very expensive. Reasons one and two will keep an increasing number of younger workers and couples living and renting closer to work. Why take the financial and mobility risks associated with homeownership? The third reason is we are broke. Who are “we”? Western civilization, comprised mainly of the U.S. and Europe. Consider this…there are gold and silver coins and bullion: actual wealth storage vehicles. There are paper dollars: temporary wealth storage vehicles. And there are also trillions of “dollars” represented as pixels on screens in accounting software programs. When I say that we are broke it is because I don’t believe those pixel dollars represent anything. All of the wealth supposedly held in those pixels does not exist. It is a classic Ponzi scheme. If you go today and convert your pixels to actual dollars, everything is just fine. But if 10% of us go today and try to convert our pixels into dollars, the banks will shut down…Why? Because the money doesn’t exist. There is no actual wealth stored in any of those pixels. Spain and Portugal may require financial bailouts in 2011. Part of the fallout from the Greek financial crisis last year was the creation of a eurozone bailout fund of $1.01 trillion. That fund could be used to assist Spain and Portugal if necessary. Where did that $1.01 trillion come from? Was it removed from another sector of Europe’s economy? Supplied in gold bullion to EU headquarters in The Hague? Removed from the savings accounts of earnest Europeans? No, none of those could supply …

Continue Reading »

Do I See Lipstick On A Pig? Or Is The Stock Market and Gold Still Going Up?

Filed in AIG, BP, Debt, Gold Investing, inflation, o, silver by on February 3, 2011 0 Comments

As most sophisticated investors and traders are aware, the U.S. Federal government has run up significant deficits and the long term debt burden is becoming a drain on Gross Domestic Product. That being said, most economists are discussing the possibility of a major decline in the value of the U.S. Dollar going forward as inflationary

Continue Reading »