[Neil Cavuto was on vacation this week. Bob Sellers hosted and was joined by Gregg Hymowitz, founder of Entrust Capital; Jim Rogers, president of JimRogers.com; Ben Stein, former speechwriter for Nixon and author of Yes, You Can Time The Market! ; Tom Dorsey, president of Dorsey, Wright & Associates; Mary Schiavo, former Inspector General for the Department of Transportation and lawyer for 9/11 victim families; Christopher Wolf, litigation attorney at Proskauer Rose; and Meredith Whitney, FOX News Business Contributor.]
Is It Time To Leave Iraq Altogether?
Bob Sellers: Is the best way to help Iraq, our brave troops, and our market to give Iraqis more of our tax dollars? Or should we pull out now? Fifty billion dollars plus $4 billion more a month is the cost of rebuilding a free Iraq. All that as deadly attacks on our troops continue to escalate. But would shelling out even more money get us out sooner and keep stocks up longer? Or is it time to leave Iraq altogether?
Ben Stein: The problem isn't the money. We can easily afford the $4 million a month. That's less than half of 1percent of our gross domestic product. And it's a very small price to pay for ending terrorism. The problem is these deaths in Iraq and the enormous draw down of these forces. If North Korea were to attack South Korea right now we would have noone to defend them right now. We have a big military and defense crisis right now. Mr. Rumsfeld and the Congress need to address it right now. But if we were to pull out of Iraq there would be an absolute catastrophe.
Jim Rogers: We spend $50 billion a year and you know they lie when they come up with those numbers, so it's probably a lot more than that. We should not be there. We're getting bogged down. We should let the Iraqis take care of the Iraqis. The President said we went into Iraq to get rid of Saddam and get rid of weapons of mass destruction. We've done that, so now let's get out.
Gregg Hymowitz: It would be a disaster for American legitimacy and credibility to get out of Iraq now. I disagree with Ben. We're going to spend quarter of a trillion dollars there, at the least, over the next four years. That's half of next year's budget deficit. That will ultimately effect interest rates, the economy and the bond market.
Meredith Whitney: It'll blow out our deficit and it blows out interest rates, which neutralizes any kind of stimulus that Greenspan is trying to effect. I think the other problem is a destabilized, major oil producing country, in the highly volatile Middle East is a much bigger risk than anything else.
Jim Rogers: And we can't afford it, despite what Ben says.
Ben Stein: This is a $10 trillion economy, maybe even close to $11 trillion. We can easily afford it. We cannot leave Iraq. It would be a foreign policy catastrophe.
Bob Sellers: Should American businesses be going into Iraq or is it too risky?
Gregg Hymowitz: American businesses aren't going to go there until it's more stable. I don't think what we're doing there is fighting terror. There's no electricity in central Baghdad. Even to get electricity will cost $10 billion. I think half the budget deficit, a quarter of a trillion dollars over the next four years, is a lot of money.
Bob Sellers: Meredith, does the market care?
Meredith Whitney: I think the market cares when there's guerrilla warfare. That's very damaging to investor's psychology.
Jim Rogers: The market has had a huge rally and it's going to go down for whatever reason. But if we get into a quagmire there and have to come home with our tail between our legs, that won't be good.
Ben Stein: It's not any way near a quagmire. A few months blip here and there on the stock market is trivial. I think what's happening with the market is trivial compared with the foreign policy considerations.
Gregg Hymowitz: I think if we keep spending this kind of money, it'll be a big negative for the market and the economy. It's a big negative for interest rates and a big negative for the equity markets.
More for Your Money
Even the losers get lucky sometimes. So are the worst performing stocks now your best bet to get more for your money? Tom, back at the beginning of the year, you were here telling us to buy losing tech stocks when many were saying stay away. That was a good call. What's a bargain now?
Tom Dorsey: I can't forget making that call. That was the last opportunity people had to outperform the broad averages this year. What's interesting that has happened is there's no lagging sectors. Food and chemical sectors are the only ones that are down this year.
Gregg Hymowitz: Chemicals have not performed well because natural gas prices have hurt them. I think if you don't look at sectors but individual stocks, there are still some good ones out there to buy. One company I like, which I know Jim hates, is Fannie Mae (FNM). It's at eight times earnings. They have clean accounting and great management.