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Bulls & Bears
This past week's Bulls & Bears: Gary B. Smith, Exemplar Capital managing partner; Tobin Smith, ChangeWave Research editor; Scott Bleier, HybridInvestors.com president; Tracy Byrnes, New York Post business writer; Charles Payne, WStreet.com; Adam Lashinsky, Fortune magazine senior writer, and Joe Battipaglia, Ryan Beck & Co chief investment officer.
Trading Pit: Anti-American Rants at U.N. — Good for U.S. and Stocks?
Anti-American rants at the United Nations—and that's the nice way of describing them. But does Wall Street think these two insane rants from the Presidents of Iran and Venezuela are actually a good thing for us and our stock market?
Tobin Smith: These rants showed how insane these guys are and will unite us against them. It should also give us some incentive to find other forms of energy. They control the strings for the oil we need. Now maybe Americans will get serious about alternative energy development.
Adam Lashinsky: No. This is not good. It reminds people that these times are uncertain. Iran is more than just a major oil producer; it is trying to get a nuclear bomb. Wall Street doesn't like this ranting and raving, especially from Chavez, because his country is only a few hundred miles from us.
Charles Payne: This will unite us. I put the stock market up there with the American flag and bald eagle as symbol of our country. Emotions play a big part in the short-term performance of the stock market. A lot of times the stock market is a proxy for the American people.
Gary B. Smith: I don't see how it's good news for the market. These two wackos, that control a lot of oil, and would love to point nuclear weapons at us, come here and say they hate us. I think the market tends to ignore this stuff, but I don't see how this is a positive.
Joe Battipaglia: Investors want a vigorous defense of America and a vigorous prosecution of the War on Terror. Karl Rove couldn't have scripted it any better than to have these two, in their own words, tell Americans how much they hate us and want us eliminated. This will help to solidify public policy on this issue going forward.
Tracy Byrnes: This is so good for us. "Keep your friends close, and your enemies closer." Having our enemies here solidifies to the American people why we need to take these two out. Anyone that had any doubts as to if we are fighting a losing war now knows better.
Will Lower Gas Prices Cause Red Hot Rally?
Gas prices are at six-month lows. Is this what the market needs to really head higher?
Charles Payne: Gas prices are a key part to leading the rally. The most important thing to the market is the Federal Reserve. Gas is number two. The terror premium is starting to fade and the American consumer is moving a lot quicker in adjusting to higher prices. Lower gas prices are a fantastic thing for the market and will be great for corporate earnings.
Gary B. Smith: I disagree with Charles. The market tends to focus on events, which become a big deal for a discreet amount of time. The price of gasoline is yesterday's news. We've moved on. The market was going up when the price of oil was rising. There's no connection now.
Tracy Byrnes: Lower prices have a lot more to do with investor psychology. Seeing $2.50/gallon at the pump, rather than $2.90/gallon makes a huge difference.
Tobin Smith: There's a lot of money now that's not going to gas companies. It's now going to retail. The lower prices are both economic and psychological.
Adam Lashinsky: When oil prices were going up, companies like Exxon and Chevron were contributing to the stock market moving higher. It was a great thing. The economy did fine when gas prices were way up. These low prices do make us feel better, but it's not a great thing for the stock market all by itself.
Joe Battipaglia: Another important consumer item affecting the market is falling mortgage rates. This has done nothing for the housing market, which suggests there's a lot of pain to be had as real estate reverses itself. In the last five years, we've also seen an addition $5 trillion of consumer debt. It just doesn't go away with the price of gas. That's the weight that is holding consumers down.