Neil Cavuto was joined by Jim Rogers, author of Adventure Capitalist; Gregg Hymowitz, founder of Entrust Capital and co-chair of Rep. Richard Gephardt’s presidential campaign; Ben Stein, author of Yes, You Can Time the Market! and former advisor to Pres. Nixon; Alexandra Lebenthal, President of Lebenthal and Company; Major General Valley, Fox News Military Analyst; and Eleanor Clift, Newsweek columnist and Fox News Channel Political Contributor.
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Neil Cavuto: Should we lock them all up and throw away all the keys? Everyone falling all over themselves over what fallen CEO will do the next perp walk. But do we really need to see more CEOs behind bars before investor confidence comes back?
Alexandra Lebenthal: I think we do need to see more. And there's a lot more to it then just the perp walk. There's a big difference between a perp walk, and putting someone behind bars and throwing away the key. There also needs to be a change to these multi-million severance packages that are given to these CEO's when they leave.
Jim Rogers: I think CEO's should be punished too, but at this stage the market is not worried about that. The market is worried about earnings, war and the money supply. The market wants to see CEO's punished and behind bars, but the markets are also looking ahead.
Ben Stein: The market doesn't seem to be particularly concerned. The market is rallying like crazy. So I think the evidence is the market can rally regardless what happens to corporate executives. And CEO's are still getting ridiculous severance packages, even though they've been caught with their pants down.
Gregg Hymowitz: It's very clear that if you did a bad thing, you should go to jail. I agree with Ben and Jim. And there's always going to be a couple of bad apples. I think you have to be a really stupid CEO to think that you'll get away with some of these things that they're accused of.
Neil Cavuto: What about allegations of accounting problems at Freddie Mac (FRE)?
Gregg Hymowitz: Freddie Mac was a little bit different. Freddie Mac was being too conservative with their earnings estimates. And they should be investigated like all these other guys. But I think at the end of the day the markets are no longer concerned about this. They're concerned with what Jim said, earnings, the economy, and economic recovery. It's about deficits and about interest rates.
Alexandra Lebenthal: I think the rally has covered a lot of the cases that are still in the system. There are still a lot of cases that need to come to a conclusion. Think about where we were a year ago. We weren't rallying on the scandal news that was coming out then. We are now.
Gregg Hymowitz: My concern is maybe we're going a little too far. Some of these charges against Martha Stewart are a little bit ridiculous. And to take a celebrity and try and make an example of them bothers me.
Jim Rogers: I hate to agree with Gregg but a lot of people have done much worse than Martha Stewart and are getting away scott free. Look at Gary Winnick, look at Hillary Clinton.
Neil Cavuto: What about some of the stocks hurt by scandals, would any of you invest in them right now?
Gregg Hymowitz: Martha Stewart's stock (MSO) is actually expensive on next year's earnings. Mood and momentum changes for Martha Stewart. This stock is trading a little bit on sympathy and psychology right now. I don't own the stock, but I think sympathy is going to turn in Martha Stewart's favor.
Alexandra Lebenthal: I think it's interesting that, because there are so many holes in her case, it is for the first time causing there to be some sympathy for her. I think the big key with her business is what's going to happen with advertising. I think it's reasonable to expect her advertisers in her magazine to be a little unsure right now. But also, her business is a lot more than just the magazine. It's a catalog with products. It's Kmart with sheets. I think people buy the quality. You're not buying those products because of her investments in other companies.
Jim Rogers: I wouldn’t buy Martha or any stock right now.
Ben Stein: I think Martha Stewart (MSO) is oversold. I think it's an amazingly well run company. But there are safer investments to buy like the Dow Diamonds (DIA)
Neil Cavuto: Where the heck are the WMD? And did they ever exist, at least recently? Two big questions a congressional hearing will soon cast over the mystery of Iraq's weapons of mass destruction. But when it comes to our safety and your stocks, should we be more worried that weapons of mass destruction may be on their way here to the U.S.?
Gen. Vallely: We've been very fortunate since 9-11 not to have anymore attacks. The threat is always there though. We have to make sure that Homeland Security is working. We've got good intelligence. There's a threat here and to our overseas interests as well.