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A shift in leadership

 

Throw out the new, embrace the old, not something you see often on Wall Street. But as technology stocks and other high flyers continue to get trounced, utilities and other oldies but goodies are doing quite well. read more…

Inequality in the housing market

 

 

“You, you said that they — What’d you say just a minute ago? They had to wait and save their money before they even thought of a decent home. Wait? Wait for what?! Until their children grow up and leave them? Until they’re so old and broken-down that — You know how long it takes a workin’ man to save five thousand dollars? Just remember this, Mr. Potter, that this rabble you’re talking about, they do most of the working and paying and living and dying in this community. Well, is it too much to have them work and pay and live and die in a couple of decent rooms and a bath?”

George Bailey, “It’s a Wonderful Life”

 

The most expensive home ever sold in America occurred over the weekend in “The Hamptons,” Long Island’s playground for the one percent. Just a week before that a Greenwich, CT estate sold for $120 million. At the same time, the percentage of America’s first-time home buyers is at its lowest level since 2008. What does that say about homeownership in the United States? read more…

Headlines can be deceiving

 

It was a great April non-farm payrolls labor report. The headlines read that job growth in the Unites States increased at its fastest pace in over two years, while the unemployment rate fell to a five-year low.  Taking a peek beneath the headlines, however, all is not as it seems. read more…

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The Blame Game

 

“Let’s call out names, names, I hate you more

Let’s call out names, names, for sure”

Blame Game by Kayne West

If it wasn’t such a national embarrassment, the finger pointing going on among our so-called leaders would be comical. Nonetheless, it is March 1 and time is up. Bring on the Sequester.

Our congressional leaders made a big show today at the White House Sequestration meeting. It was their first such meeting on the subject to date.  I considered it a photo op at best. This week, rather than attempt a compromise, both Democrats and Republicans spent their time blaming each other for the Sequester.

From the GOP point of view, it is “the president’s sequester” while the president is blaming the cuts on the Republican’s failure to act responsibly. Since it was the Budget Control Act of 2011that first authorized the Sequester, (if the bi-partisan “Super committee” couldn’t come up with a compromise solution to reducing the deficit), let’s look at how the final vote panned out.

One hundred and seventy-four Republicans voted for the measure but only ninety-five Democrats. The final tally was 269 to 161 with just about all of today’s GOP leadership voting yes. These are the same characters who now claim it was Obama’s fault. All of this name calling is a smokescreen to hide an even more important deadline that occurs at the end of March.

On March 27, Congress will need to pass a “continuing resolution” (read short-term spending plan) or funding for the Federal government will expire. Yes, my long-suffering readers, without a deal between the two parties the government shuts down.  Continuing resolutions are stop gap measures that keep the lights on in Washington, absent a formal budget. We haven’t had one of those in years because of political partisanship.

The threat of a shutdown actually will force congress to act since, unlike the more subtle and slower paced sequester cuts, a total shut down of the government would be highly visible and extremely disruptive. It would not be pretty. Either congress will agree to keep the sequester cuts as is or it will have to come up with an alternative set of revenue increases and spending cuts.

In the meantime, both parties will have had almost a month of dealing with irate airline passengers, defense contractors, various agency heads, parents of Head Start children and the like.  So this week’s failure to compromise is simply setting the stage for a bigger cliff hanger, much more drama, and, I suspect, heightened volatility in the stock market.

Readers may have noticed that over the last two weeks volatility has escalated among the averages. We will most likely see more one percent up and down days as March unfolds. Washington seems to be providing the justification for the pullback I have been expecting. So with headwinds strengthening, one wonders just how long the markets will be able to shrug them off. But let me be clear: I don’t expect a market route, simply a nice pullback that stocks sorely need in order to advance further this year.

 

 

 

 

Snap, Crackle and Pop

Chiropractors are seeing more patients than ever and that trend is expected to continue as Baby Boomers grow older. The popularity of alternative medicines and Americans newly-found caution towards pain killers only increase the demand. But the real question is can the industry get paid for it? read more…

Sequestration Takes Center Stage

Will Washington cut spending?

Here we are less than two weeks from the March 1 deadline implementing $1.2 trillion in automatic spending cuts and suddenly investors are getting concerned.  How convenient is that? read more…

Trade Schools versus College

When was the last time anyone seriously considered a choice like that? Over the last fifty years, most Americans considered a college education as the only ticket to their slice of the American dream. The high cost of that education, coupled with declining incomes and fewer openings for today’s college grads make me wonder if there isn’t a better way forward for a large portion of our work force. read more…

Inch by inch

Markets continue to grind higher with several averages, like the small and mid-cap indexes, hitting record highs.   What little profit-taking occurs is met by buyers anxious to get into the market. I suspect this stage will continue for a bit longer. read more…

America, the Battered

On the eve of what is supposed to be one whopping big snow storm here in the Northeast, one can only wonder if Mother Nature is preparing us for yet another horrendous weather year. Last year was one of the costliest on record. read more…

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About Bill

Bill Schmick was born in a blue-collar neighborhood of Philadelphia, just a few blocks north of “Rocky Balboa” territory where most of his Catholic schoolmates grew up to be either cops or criminals. He narrowly escaped both professions by volunteering to fight in Vietnam as a U.S. Marine... Read More

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