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Bulls & Bears
This past week's Bulls & Bears: Gary B. Smith, Exemplar Capital managing partner; Pat Dorsey, Morningstar.com director of stock research; Tobin Smith, ChangeWave Research editor; Scott Bleier, HybridInvestors.com president; Meredith Whitney, CIBC World Markets executive director; Matthew McCall, Penn Financial Group president.
Trading Pit: Wall Street Cheers Government Housing Plan: Free Market Hypocrites?
The White House offers government help to homeowners. And stocks soar! Did the huge rally uncover a dirty little secret on Wall Street — that it's "not" about free markets?
Gary B. Smith: Wall Street is being completely hypocritical. I don't think it's any secret that Wall Street loves a free market economy because it generally works to Wall Street's benefit. The only time the street doesn't like free markets is when free market don't work to its advantage — like now!
Tobin Smith: President Bush is just expanding the Federal Housing Administration (FHA), which already exists. He's not calling for a bail out like Barack Obama and other Democrats running for President. The President is just using the current system and allowing it to work.
Scott Bleier: Of course the markets are being hypocritical. The stock market is taking every manipulative stimulus to keep it up near the highs. Without this, the Dow would be at least 1000 points lower. The fact is that the Fed and politicians are using every trick in the book to keep the markets higher. They are making promises of aid, interest rate cuts and printing money. And the markets believe it. But the market is lying and is making investors believe everything is OK.
Matthew McCall: No, Wall Street is not hypocritical. Friday's news conference was more an "appearance" for the upcoming election than anything else. In reality the government has 'limited role' to aid mortgage woes and Bush's plan is to help 80,000 households. The number is small considering there will be 2 million households facing mortgage readjustments in the coming year.
Pat Dorsey: This is not a bailout in the classic sense of just handing out large buckets of cash. But it is a bailout in the sense that it's not letting system work things out, which is what we should be doing. As far as Wall Street being hypocritical, of course it is. Who there would put principles over profits?
Meredith Whitney: The weaker players are hypocrites. These are the people and businesses that have failed. Like the mortgage lenders that were too aggressive. But those who stuck to their good business aren't having problems.
Congress Back From Vacation: Bad News for Wall Street?
Despite all the jitters, the markets were up for the month of August. Maybe that's because Congress was out of town? Look for lawmakers to return to work this week and start calling for tax hikes... and big social programs. Congress back to work. Bad for the market?
Gary B. Smith: It's always a nightmare when Congress is in session. They should just have a permanent vacation after Labor Day. Why would you bring back an institution with such a low approval rating? Every Congressman and Senator wants to come back with the sole mission getting reelected. However, even Congress can't hurt the market for the last few months of the year.
Tobin Smith: This is a presidential election cycle. Nothing means anything until the primaries are over. Smart people will be able to disregard this malarkey until the primaries are over.
Meredith Whitney: It's bad because Congress thinks they are smarter than the markets and have all the answers. Thank goodness they were gone for August, allowing the markets to work out its problems on its own.
Scott Bleier: Congress is bad for the markets because all they are going to do is try to legislate. Now they have an issue like subprime, which affects voters. And believe me, Congress is going to try and spend our money to fix it.
Matthew McCall: When Congress comes back from vacation is when I go on vacation! The market went up in August with them gone. Them coming back won't be good for the market, but in the long run it won't make a difference.
Pat Dorsey: It doesn't matter if they are back are not. We should look at how much money companies are making rather than what Congress is doing.