Lear

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.

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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…

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A Makeover for eBay

Filed in amazon-com, eBay, Lear, New Gold, o, South African Gold, Spot Gold, ubs by on February 11, 2011 0 Comments
A Makeover for eBay

Filed under: Management , Competitive Strategy , eBay (EBAY) We’ve oft heard the saying: “We must reinvent ourselves.” This is the new mantra at eBay. According to chief executive John Donahoe: “Clearly, I hope you see that we are starting to play offense.” EBay ( EBAY ) has long been a dominant player in the e-commerce industry. Started in 1995 , it has brought together buyers and sellers in an auction format. Now, 16 years later and highly successful, the company finds a new competitor in Amazon.com ( AMZN ), which is grabbing market share. In the meantime, eBay has acquired Paypal, as a wholly owned subsidiary. Paypal, an online payment service, helped to propel eBay’s business transactions. Continue reading A Makeover for eBay A Makeover for eBay originally appeared on BloggingStocks on Fri, 11 Feb 2011 12:15:00 EST. Please see our terms for use of feeds . Permalink | Email this | Comments

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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 …

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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 …

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Zillow: Home Values Lose Another $2 Trillion

Filed in BP, economy, EPS, Gold, GOld juniors, Gold Market, housing-market, Lear, o, revenue by on February 9, 2011 0 Comments
Zillow: Home Values Lose Another $2 Trillion

Anybody that thinks housing has reached a bottom needs to have their head examined. If you doubt that just ask the fine folks at Beazer Homes (NYSE:BZH) who reported a loss of $48.8 million, or 66 cents a share, down more than 200% from a $48 million, or $1.17 per share, income a year earlier. That dismal effort came on revenue that plummeted 48% to $110.3 million from $213.1 million just a year earlier. Meanwhile the spring is really not looking that much better. Beazer reported a total of 527 home closings and 540 new orders during the period, down 43.6% and down 23.9% respectively. Of course, that what happens Uncle Sam steps out of the mix with tax goodies and rebates—the market falls apart. Because the truth is despite historically low interest rates, the demand for homes of all types remains at exceptionally low levels. That’s true no matter what Lawrence Yun says. The end result is falling prices and more borrowers left underwater…. From Bloomberg by John Gittleson entitled: Home-Price Drop Leaves 27% of U.S. Owners Underwater on Loans “ The number of U.S. homes worth less than their outstanding mortgage jumped in the fourth quarter as prices fell and lenders seized fewer properties from delinquent borrowers, according to Zillow Inc. About 15.7 million homeowners had negative equity, also known as being underwater, at the end of the year, up from 13.9 million in the previous three months, the Seattle-based real estate information company said in a report today. The total represented 27 percent of mortgaged single-family homes, the highest in Zillow data dating to the first quarter of 2009. Home prices are declining as foreclosed properties sell at discounts and unemployment at 9 percent limits buyer demand. Values will fall as much as 5 percent this year, putting more homeowners underwater, before finding a floor as the economy improves, said Stan Humphries, Zillow’s chief economist. “ These seem like fairly grim numbers,” Humphries said in a telephone interview. “We’re still expecting a bottom in home values later this year. And this, if anything, makes me a bit more confident because I’m seeing very large corrections now, which means the market can start to repair itself.” The median value for a U.S. single-family home was $175,200 in the fourth quarter, down 2.6 percent from the end of September and 5.9 percent from a year earlier, according to Zillow. Values have fallen 27 percent from the June 2006 peak. Las Vegas led the nation in …

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Market Wrap-Up for Feb.8 (MCD, CL, AET, CLX, AVP, more)

The second interest rate hike in China in less than a month is being digested by Wall Street right now with a ho-hum reaction this morning. At some point the market will begin paying a bit more attention. With numerous M&A deals still being announced, and IPOs lining up on the runway, we’re not sure when the buying streak will begin to ease up, but we are carefully examining possible scenarios. Gold prices seem to be perking up today, as the last four months have been nothing but sideways action. At some point soon, we will see either a coiled spring effect and higher prices, or impatient investors heading for the exits. Elsewhere in the markets, shares of McDonald’s ( MCD ) got a nice boost from solid January sales. Colgate-Palmolive ( CL ) was also rallying on some takeover rumblings. Aetna ( AET ) and Clorox ( CLX ) had some decent buying following positive analyst comments. Avon Products ( AVP ) went in the opposite direction following lackluster earnings results. I was reading numerous accounts of AOL’s acquisition of the popular news site The Huffington Post yesterday. I tend to pay attention to what is happening in the web media space closely, as our firm is often grouped into that space, since “.com” is part of our brand. You have to question the uncanny love that is expressed for the deal, with the word “innovation” being tossed around in seemingly every other compliment. Sorry, but what is innovative about having 6000 contributors writing free content for your website, as Ms. Huffington managed to achieve? The company does only have 200 employees and can be described as lean and mean, but innovative? I’ve also seen a lot of insults leveled toward “old media” (newspapers, magazines) regarding their new goals of putting up so-called “pay walls” (which just means you charge users to access your content). If I were running the New York Times or any other major paper, I would’ve put some sort of pay wall up years ago. Why charge for a print version and give it away online for free! The lack of vision has costs thousands and thousands of jobs in the newspaper and magazine industries. Some people may say “who cares, it’s free now, I can get the same information anywhere on the web.” I don’t know about you, but reading articles created by content farms that pay writers $3 a post (if that) isn’t exactly very appealing. Unfortunately, that’s the direction that many online media plays are heading. I am not going to knock Arianna Huffington and her major payday, but at the end of the day, it wasn’t so much about innovation, as it …

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Millionaires More Likely to Strategic Default

Filed in BP, CBS, Gold, GOld juniors, Gold Market, housing-market, Lear, o by on February 8, 2011 0 Comments
Millionaires More Likely to Strategic Default

Not surprisingly, the bursting of the housing bubble has moved up to the final rung on the ladder. Far from the days of the subprime debacle, now even the “good” people are getting squeezed. The difference is the rich are smart enough to walk away from it all. In fact, homeowners with loans of more than $1 million default at a much higher rate than “the little people” do. From CBS News entitled: Even More Millionaires Defaulting on Mortgage “ For Darren Thomas that ocean view was quickly losing its value. He says, “I bought it for [$1.385 million]. It is worth less than [$800,000], maybe less.” Thomas bought his townhome in 2006 but after seeing its value drop steadily he stopped paying. “I haven’t made a payment in two years,” he says. “It was business decision. It was an easy decision. I have a property worth six or 700,000 less than when I bought it. I was making payments of 10,000 a month.” Thomas has gone into strategic default. He could make payments but is refusing to put more money into a home that is worth less than his mortgage. Among luxury homeowners he is not alone. One in seven homeowners with loans over $1 million are seriously delinquent compared to one in 12 with mortgages below $1 million. The more you owe, it seems, the better off you may be. Darren Thomas continues to live in his home because banks are often slower to foreclose on million-dollar homes. For those who have stopped paying their million-dollar mortgages it’s just an investment that didn’t work out. “As negative equity took place and drove the value down it became an investment not worth holding onto,” says Corelogic’s Mark Flemming. “Not much different than a regular stock you would sell.” “People like myself, business people, are going it is silly to throw good money after bad,” says Thomas “The loss is not mine. The loss is the banks.” When it comes to real estate, the rich are different. They can be just as ruthless as the bankers.” I guess Nick Carraway was wrong after all. In some ways the rich really are just like the rest of us….suckers for a good bubble. The difference is they understand the money/business part of the game better than most. For them its just a business decision. By the way, according to CoreLogic, home price have fallen for the fifth straight month. Overall, house prices delined 1.8% for the month of December. Related Articles: Case-Shiller Index Shows Renewed Home Price Declines 2011 Housing Market Forecast Case-Shiller Index Screams Housing Double Dip Meredith Whitney Predicts a Housing Double-Dip Zandi: Expect 8% Home Price Declines To learn more about Wealth Daily click here Millionaires More Likely to Strategic Default originally appeared in Wealth Daily . Wealth Daily is a free daily newsletter featuring contrarian investment insights and commentary.

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Blinder Understates Cost of Carbon Tax

Filed in AMAG, BP, deflation, economy, job creation, lead, Lear, New Gold, o, Spot Gold by on February 4, 2011 0 Comments

In a recent article in the Wall Street Journal , Alan Blinder listed numerous alleged benefits of a phased-in carbon tax. Out of his entire column, he devoted a single sentence to the possible downside of his plan when he wrote, “No one likes to pay higher taxes.” A more balanced assessment shows that a carbon tax presents very real dangers, even if we rely on the same economic analysis that so enthralled Blinder. Spurring Innovation through Higher Taxes? Here’s Blinder explaining the economic benefits of a carbon tax that starts out low, but will eventually become quite steep: “Once America’s entrepreneurs and corporate executives see lucrative opportunities from carbon-saving devices and technologies, they will start investing right away — and in ways that make the most economic sense. I don’t know whether all this innovation will lead to 80% of our electricity being generated by clean energy sources in 2035, which is the president’s goal. But I can hardly wait to witness the outpouring of ideas it would unleash. The next Steve Jobs, Bill Gates and Mark Zuckerberg are waiting in the wings to make themselves rich by helping the environment.” We should also be clear that Blinder’s argument for job creation does not rely on the “negative externalities” of carbon emissions. Earlier in the piece, he made a list of the “few nice side effects” that would result from a carbon tax: “reducing our trade deficit, making our economy more efficient, ameliorating global warming …” Because he puts global warming at third in the list, we see that there is nothing peculiar to greenhouse gases behind his main argument for job creation. No, Blinder is making the simple observation that if the government imposes artificial costs on the…

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Recovery Chronicles: Tales From the Modern Food Line

Filed in BP, frontline, Gold, GOld juniors, inflation, Lear, o, Quantitative Easing by on February 4, 2011 0 Comments
Recovery Chronicles: Tales From the Modern Food Line

Here’s one from the recovery chronicles: food stamp usage is up 14% from last year. Today, the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) serves about one in seven Americans. Of these, about half are children USDA officials say. From the Wall Street Journal by Sara Murray entitled: Some 43 Million Use Food Stamps “Nearly a year and a half into the economic recovery, some 43.6 million Americans continued to rely on food stamps in November. More than 14% of the population drew food stamps in November to purchase groceries as high unemployment and muted wage growth crimped budgets. The number of recipients was up 0.9% from October, according to the new report by the U.S. Department of Agriculture. Compared to a year ago, the number of people receiving food stamps was up 14.2%. In both Washington, D.C. and Mississippi more than a fifth of residents received food stamps — the highest recipiency rates of any state. But demand has grown stronger in the past year in a handful of other states that recorded significant increases on a per capita basis. In New Mexico, 19.4% of the population tapped into food stamps. That’s up 3.2 percentage points from the same month a year ago, the largest increase for any state. Idaho reported a similar jump: 14% of residents received food stamps, up 3.1 points from a year ago. Washington, D.C., Florida, Delaware and Texas all experienced similar year over year increases.” For comparison sakes here’s how the food stamp roles have grown

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Market Wrap-Up for Feb.3 (EL, NEM, YUM, K, CME, CVS, more)

The markets got off to a negative start today, but within the averages were several names that stood out on the upside, helping push the averages green by the market close. Screaming higher today were shares of Estee Lauder ( EL ) after the cosmetics giant beat estimates on its earnings report and raised guidance significantly. This is a name we have been watching closely and one we will consider on decent pullbacks. Also moving up on earnings-related stories were Ross Stores ( ROST ), Yum Brands ( YUM ), and Kellogg ( K ). On the flipside, earnings results hurt stocks like Ameriprise Financial ( AMP ), CME Group ( CME ), and CVS Caremark ( CVS ). Holding the averages back today a bit are energy plays that are seeing some red following multi-day gains. Newmont Mining ( NEM ) announced an acquisition this morning of Fronteer Gold ( FRG ). I will be watching the mining companies closely to see if this can get gold and sliver out of their recent slump. As I get prepared to do a national radio campaign where I will be interviewed on about 20-25 different national affiliates (I will give readers a heads up whenever I know I will be going on somewhere) regarding my “Be a Dividend Millionaire” book and of course our Dividend.com business, I want to reflect on my initial foray into the media world. About two years ago, I reached out to a local NBC affiliate to talk about what was happening in the economy and it was quite an enlightening experience. I learned some lessons early on about the media biz and business news from a local affiliate standpoint. First of all, I went in cold with no experience or training, and that likely showed my first few times on the air (fortunately no Cindy Brady-style freezing when the on-air light came on). After that, I seemed to find my groove. Unfortunately at the time, the economy was in the dumps and there was little I could do to sugarcoat the situation. Being a tell-it-like-it-is person is not something that broadcasters enjoy, depending on the station and people you deal with. In my case, my segments were focused on avoiding layoffs and when will the economy rebound. I had little in the way I was able to contribute from an investing standpoint (not my call, but the station manager at the time). I also learned about writing your own segments, which is what I had to do. The anchor would literally receive my notes for the first time as I was being seated up at the anchor desk a minute before going on the air. Can you say chaotic? I stopped doing the segments as there was a bit too much demand on what was needed for me to produce the segments, along with being held back from showcasing my investing expertise. I am excited to begin working with a top media/PR person who has worked with some key names in the financial and publishing space. I hope I am able to keep things real during my upcoming media appearances, and won’t be forced…

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Ben Plans, Food Prices Reach All-Time Highs

Ben Plans, Food Prices Reach All-Time Highs

Don’t you just love the Federal Reserve…? Higher prices have helped to set the world ablaze and Bernanke & Co. continue to insist inflation is a figment of our imagination. You see, despite the obvious fact that commodity prices are skyrocketing……. …the Fed comes out with this nonsense this morning. About inflation the Bernank remarked: “On the inflation front, we have recently seen significant increases in some highly visible prices, notably for gasoline. Indeed, prices of many commodities have risen lately, largely as a result of the very strong demand from fast-growing emerging market economies, coupled, in some cases, with constraints on supply. Nevertheless, overall inflation remains quite low : Over the 12 months ending in December, prices for all the goods and services purchased by households increased by only 1.2 percent, down from 2.4 percent over the prior 12 months. To assess underlying trends in inflation, economists also follow several alternative measures of inflation; one such measure is so-called core inflation, which excludes the more volatile food and energy components and therefore can be a better predictor of where overall inflation is headed. Core inflation was only 0.7 percent in 2010, compared with around 2-1/2 percent in 2007, the year before the recession began.” Meanwhile, the reality is food prices around the world have hit their highest levels EVER… From Breitbart entitled: World food prices hit record high: UN agency “ World food prices reached their highest level ever recorded in January and are set to keep rising for months, the UN food agency said on Thursday, warning that the hardest-hit countries could face turmoil. Rising food prices have been cited among the driving forces behind recent popular revolts in north Africa, including the uprising in Egypt and the toppling …

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