Strength Isn’t Always Good

November 28th, 2016

With the dollar strengthening rapidly relative to other currencies, in part as a result of Donald Trump’s election victory, consider this irony: The price of imports will fall, making them more attractive to consumers—just as the incoming president prepares to clamp down on imports.

Hopefully, he’ll put aside his protectionist instincts and be persuaded by his advisors to enable American consumers to enjoy a few bargains. Otherwise, we’ll be experiencing the downside of a strong dollar without enjoying the upside.dollar

The downside is that a strong dollar makes American goods more costly abroad. The weak dollar that prevailed through most of the Obama presidency enabled American companies to compete abroad, even though corporate America is taxed at the highest rate in the industrialized world.

But add on a stronger dollar and American exports will drop, increasing our trade deficit, reducing corporate profits and making it more difficult for the economy to grow. That would cause a drop in employment and American workers would, yet again, have to wait to see their salaries increase. Read the rest of this entry »

Investing Under President Trump

November 21st, 2016

Is Donald Trump a narcissistic blowhard or an astute businessman with the ability to make America great again?

We will all find out over the next four years, but we should also keep in mind that he will not be running the country by himself. He has a Republican majority in Congress and most states are now run by Republicans (the party that most media were writing obits for a month ago).

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Although President-elect Trump is a former Democrat and has expressed support for expanding many government programs, the advisors he has picked to date signal that the regulatory state we’ve lived under for the past eight years will be reined in. That would be good news for the economy and for the markets.

Regardless, he is not Hillary Clinton, who was poised to tack left of President Obama and bring us closer to the socialist state that U.S. Senators Bernie Sanders and Elizabeth Warren have been advocating.

While we worry about his stands on trade and immigration, President Trump will undoubtedly be stronger than President Obama, more bipartisan and more focused on economic growth. In all cases, it wouldn’t take much. Read the rest of this entry »

An Election Post Mortem

November 14th, 2016

You can’t play sports without losing sometimes and, in losing, you learn something about grace and how to act under pressure.”                                  John F. Kerry

The silent majority has made its choice. Working class white males bonded with the billionaire from New York City and, as a result, we have a new president who is not a Democrat (though he was), not a woman and, thankfully, not politically correct.

Donald Trump, though labeled as a racist by Democrats, also drew more votes from blacks, Latinos and Asians than previous Republican nominee Mitt Romney.trump-donald

Supporters of Hillary Clinton did not take her surprise defeat well. In fact, they may have reacted with more constraint if bubonic plague had been introduced to their water supply. Clinton supporters swooned. I’m still not sure what the vapors are, but Hillary fans had cases of them in droves. It was like a scene from “Contagion” or “The Day the Earth Stood Still.” Panic was widespread.

Consider this quote from the Telegram & Gazette’s Dianne Williamson: “Yes, it hurts. It’s spirit-crushing. I’ve heard from many people who expressed surprise at the visceral emotional pain they felt upon learning that a slick, opportunistic demagogue has been chosen over a smart, capable and accomplished woman who has devoted her life to public service.” Read the rest of this entry »

#NeverHillary: Read This Before You Vote

November 7th, 2016

When it became clear that Donald Trump was a less-than-ideal candidate for president, many Republicans came out in favor of a #NeverTrump movement.

There’s also a #NeverHillary movement. Have you read about it in the media? How many Democrats do you know who have joined it? I’m guessing that, if you’re being more honest than Hillary, your answers are “no” and “none.”clinton

How much influence peddling, pay-for-play politics, nepotism, lying and corruption will it take for Democrats—and for all Americans—to say, “Never Hillary?”

Apparently, quite a lot. We could devote volumes to this topic, but here’s a quick and incomplete summary of the scandalous life of Hillary Clinton. There have been too many conflicts of interest and shady decisions to include in a single post, but hopefully there is enough material here for you to make an informed decision on Election Day.

We’ve previously written about the Democratic Party platform, which would be a disaster for our economy, but the lack of ethics shown by Hillary Clinton is even more troubling.

The Convicts List

First, it should be noted that a vote for Hillary is a vote for “Clintonworld,” the Friends-of-Hill group of her closest advisors who have almost all been investigated, indicted or imprisoned. Read the rest of this entry »

Fear Politicians, Not Clowns

October 31st, 2016

Clowns have been on a rampage this year, with creepy clowns—sometimes armed—threatening victims not only throughout the U.S., but in other countries. According to a poll conducted by Chapman University, Americans are more afraid of clowns than they are of climate change.clown

Clowns? Don’t make me laugh. Even the “Killer Clowns from Outer Space” are sugar-and-spice-and-everything-nice compared with The Hillary and The Donald. This Halloween, trick-or-treaters have cast their votes in favor of both presidential candidates. They don’t need no stinkin’ clowns to scare people. They’re dressing as two of the scariest people in America.

What makes politicians so scary? Consider just a few examples:

Obamascare. Premiums are jumping an average of 25% for the benchmark plan on Healthcare.gov. But don’t worry about Americans losing their coverage. Most of the coverage is paid for by us taxpayers. Tell me again … why is it called the Affordable Care Act?hill-mask

Obamascare II. Hillary Clinton, if elected president, will seek to expand the Affordable Care Act. With also-very-scary U.S. Senators Bernie Sanders and Elizabeth Warren there to push things along, socialized medicine will likely be inevitable, just as retiring baby boomers are beginning to add to the strain on the system. Socialism, here we come! Americas will no longer have to cross into Cuba for real health care.

Donald Trump would like to repeal of the Affordable Care Act, although we’re not sure what he’d put in its place. Could it be any worse?

We’re all going to be poor. The federal debt doubled under President Obama. It’s approaching $20 trillion, but it’s projected to grow even more rapidly in the future.trump Read the rest of this entry »

Finally! The Election’s Almost Here!

October 24th, 2016

It seems as though the presidential campaign season has gone on for years. Few people we’ve talked to are happy with either candidate, but as the election gets closer, we’re finding that the candidates are even worse than we thought, the media is even more biased than we thought and the country is in even greater danger than we thought.presidents

Consider just a few issues that have led us to these conclusions:

Deny, Deny, Deny. With the election just weeks away, media have been publishing stories about Donald Trump’s womanizing, which raises a few questions:

Is anyone surprised that Donald Trump is a womanizer?

Where have these tapes and wronged women been for all of these years? Why are they emerging now, just before the election?

The Donald has followed the Hillary playbook, which can be summarized as “Deny, deny, deny.” It works for her … why doesn’t it work for him?

Does anyone anywhere still think the media is objective?  On any given day, how many stories do you read or watch that are critical of Clinton?  How many do you read or watch that are critical of Trump?

If the primaries started over today, would Donald Trump have a chance of being the Republican nominee?

Read the rest of this entry »

Obama’s Legacy: Adults Living with Their Parents

October 10th, 2016

There’s a bright side to the upcoming presidential election, even if you dislike both candidates—it will bring an end to the Obama administration.

That may seem like a harsh assessment, but the past eight years have not been good to the U.S. economy, which has been weaker than instant coffee.  As POTUS, President Obama bears much of the responsibility.oecd-2_0

How bad has economic performance been? Today, about 66.6% of American youth aged 15 to 29 are living with their parents. That’s up from 62.8% before the Great Recession. Fifteen-year-olds should, of course, be living at home. But 29 year olds? Adults don’t typically live with mom and dad if they can afford to live away from home.

Talk all you want about the Great Recession, but that was eight years ago. And if you think tax cuts and insufficient spending by the Bush administration resulted in the economic malaise of the past eight years, you may want to consider reading economists other than Paul Krugman.

President Obama’s Forecasts vs. Reality

The Wall Street Journal may not be a fan of the president, but the recent review it published of the Obama economy by Lawrence Lindsey, a former Federal Reserve governor and assistant to President George W. Bush for economic policy, couldn’t have been fairer. It compares what President Obama said would happen with what actually happened. Read the rest of this entry »

The Apolitical Fed and the “Big, Fat, Ugly Bubble”

October 3rd, 2016

“ … nothing at the Fed is political.”                                                     Neil Kashkari, new head of the Minneapolis Fed

The Federal Reserve Board was designed to be a nonpartisan entity, existing solely for the benefit of the American economy. Apparently, there is a flaw in the design.

During the first debate between presidential candidates Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump, Mr. Trump accused the Federal Reserve Board of keeping interest rates near zero to help Democrats in November, while creating a “big, fat, ugly bubble” that will pop after the election when the central bank raises rates.

According to Ruchir Sharma, chief global strategist for Morgan Stanley, “This riff has some truth to it.”djia

“Since the Fed began aggressive monetary easing in 2008,” Sharma wrote on Zero Hedge, “my calculations show that nearly 60% of stock market gains have come on those days, once every six weeks, that the Federal Open Market Committee announces its policy decisions.

“Put another way, the S&P 500 index has gained 699 points since January 2008, and 422 of those points came on the 70 Fed announcement days. The average gain on announcement days was 0.49%, or roughly 50 times higher than the average gain of 0.01% on other days.”

It must be a coincidence that gains are 50 times higher on days when the FOMC announces policy decisions.

Sharma’s conclusions are further supported by this chart from Showrealhist.com, which shows an inflation-adjusted Dow Jones Industrial Average.  Note the upward surge that began when the Fed began QE in 2008. Read the rest of this entry »

Deceptive Pricing

September 26th, 2016

If you had to believe one of the following people, who would you choose?

Heather Bresch, CEO of Mylan, makers of the EpiPen: “The misconception about our profits is understandable, and at least partly due to the complex environment in which pharmaceutical prices are determined.”

John Stumpf, CEO of Wells Fargo: “First of all, this was by 1% of our people.”

Janet Yellen, chair of the Federal Reserve Board: “In general, I would not say that asset valuations are out of line with historical norms.”yellen

Two of the three people above were brought before Congressional committees so they could be scolded by U.S. Senator Elizabeth Warren and other upstanding, ethically pure members of Congress. Which two?

And finally, which of the three people above have had the greatest impact on you and on the economy?

Stumpf Grilled

Mr. Stumpf’s days as CEO of Wells Fargo are apparently numbered, because some of his company’s minions decided to open accounts for bank customers who never authorized them to be opened. This was done by employees to make quotas and earn bonuses. Read the rest of this entry »

Take This Quiz before You Vote

September 19th, 2016

Citizens of many countries would envy us for having the right to vote, the right to express our opinions, the right to practice whatever religion suits us, and the right to say, do and think pretty much whatever we want.

Yet many of us take these freedoms for granted.  Many people neglect to vote.  Others vote, but shouldn’t because they don’t know what they’re voting for.  While “get out the vote” efforts have become popular, it’s unlikely that anyone who won’t make the effort to cast a ballot is going to make an effort to know what the issues are and where the candidates stand on those issues.  Voting when you don’t know the issues dilutes the democratic process.screen-shot-2016-09-15-at-1-20-35-pm

So take this simple quiz.  Maybe it will help to inform you.  Maybe you’ll decide after taking it that you shouldn’t vote.  And maybe it will just reinforce what you already believe.

True or false.  The Affordable Care Act (aka Obamacare) is making healthcare more affordable.

False. Health insurance is becoming increasingly unaffordable and, shortly after the November election, the new open enrollment period will bring double-digit rate increases for many.  Healthcare costs jumped 1% just in the month of August, which was the largest increase in 32½ years. Read the rest of this entry »