This year one sector of our nation’s economy is bucking the recessionary trend—the business of county fairs. Over the next few weeks, if the weather cooperates, the region will benefit from a migration of visitors from all over the region as Americans pass up expensive out-of-town trips in favor of demo-derbies, hot-dog eating contests and 4-H shows. (more…)

All week the tension built. After Monday’s big move upward, traders were convinced that it was time for a market pullback; after all the S&P 500 Index had finally clawed its way back above the 1,000 level. Surely the markets would pause here, they reasoned, and Friday’s unemployment number would be the excuse. Wrong! (more…)

As the Obama health care initiative occupies the nation’s center stage, Massachusetts’s landmark, employer-paid Medical Security Program continues to be touted as a model for national reform. This week’s news that the program will run out of money by January, thanks to the high rate of the state’s unemployment and ballooning medical costs, makes one wonder if the model is working. (more…)

New Highs for 2009

Last week’s breakout was confirmed. After a pause earlier in the week, the stock markets reached the highest levels of the year and then pulled back a bit. The combination of continued positive earning’s reports and a chance statement by President Obama conspired to move the markets higher for a third consecutive weekly gain. As a result both the S&P 500 and the Dow have turned positive for the year while the NASDAQ continues to outperform. (more…)

That’s right; the big banks have found yet another way to pick your pocket. Over the last month the big credit card companies have been quietly raising interest rates and fees before new rules go into effect under the Credit Card Accountability, Responsibility and Disclosure Act (the Credit Card Act). (more…)

Break Through

After two months of range-bound trading, investors punched through resistance and bid the markets to new yearly highs this week. The Dow, NASDAQ and the S&P all look like they want to go higher but may need a bit of a pause here to catch its breath. (more…)

Midway through second quarter earnings season, many companies have surprised to the upside and their managements have changed their view of the future. On Wall Street we call it “guidance” and most of it sees a bottom or early signs of recovery in their businesses. (more…)

President Obama is on track to fulfill one of his main campaign promises: guaranteed healthcare for the majority of Americans. How and who will pay for it is still up in the air but this week it appeared that most of the burden will land on the shoulders of America’s rich as well as the nation’s small businesses. (more…)

Pick your poison—oil, unemployment, earnings, –the markets suffered through a week of anxiety as investors fretted that we just might revisit the bad old days of 2008. Although I don’t think that is in the cards, I wouldn’t rule out further downside. (more…)

With the unemployment rate at 9.5% and an economy that continues to give mixed signals about a recovery, both economists and politicians are talking about the need for a second stimulus plan. I suggest it may be a good idea to first examine why the existing stimulus plan may not be working as well as it should. (more…)