DISCLAIMER: THE FOLLOWING "Cost of Freedom Recap" CONTAINS STRONG OPINIONS WHICH ARE NOT A REFLECTION OF THE OPINIONS OF FOX NEWS AND SHOULD NOT BE RELIED UPON AS INVESTMENT ADVICE WHEN MAKING PERSONAL INVESTMENT DECISIONS. IT IS FOX NEWS' POLICY THAT CONTRIBUTORS DISCLOSE POSITIONS THEY HOLD IN STOCKS THEY DISCUSS, THOUGH POSITIONS MAY CHANGE. READERS OF "Cost of Freedom Recap" MUST TAKE RESPONSIBILITY FOR THEIR OWN INVESTMENT DECISIONS.
ARE BANK LAYOFFS A BAD SIGN FOR THE HOLIDAY SHOPPING SEASON?
TRACY BYRNES: It's really hard on the psyche when you start to hear about more and more layoffs, especially this time of year. Cheryl, look I love to shop, but I'm broke. I feel like I don't have the money to get out and do it this year. I think a lot of people will feel that way. I think we're going to see a lot of, maybe more people get out on Black Friday, more people sit at their computers and try to get those bargains, but I'm not necessarily sure that people are going to be out there spending more money than they did last year.
CHRISTIAN DORSEY: Well, you know I think the holiday shopping season is likely to be very similar to what it was last year. It's not going to be disappointing, but it's certainly not going to be spectacular, but I don't think that news of these layoffs is going to have any kind of an impact at all. If you're one of those employees at a firm that's announced layoffs, you might be really concerned and you pull back, but for the rest of folks who are at companies that are not announcing layoffs, I don't think it's going to have any effect whatsoever. The fact of the matter is, we've had persistently high unemployment for a while, and probably at this point people have general fatigue when it comes to hearing companies laying off workers. That's kind of become par for the course for people.
WAYNE ROGERS: Well that's true, and the banks are going to have to do something. As I've said, you've got four banks that monopolize the banking business now in this country. They're going to have layoffs and every time there's a hiccup they're going to have layoffs; that's bound to happen. The rest of the country, I'm with Christian there, I don't think it's going to be as bad as everyone else thinks it is. Look, we have systemic unemployment in this country and that's not going to come back for a long time, so I don't think it's going to be that much worse than last year in that sense.
JOHN LAYFIELD: We're going to keep on spending on certain things. Americans have shown that if something comes out they're going to buy it, even in a recession. So, if you have a new Nike pair of sneakers, if you have a new ipad, ipod, something like that, Americans are going to buy it, but what they tend to do it's like Vegas travel; you go to Vegas, but in a recession when you're worried about your job you don't go to dinners; you don't go to events; you don't go to parties; you cut back on your overall spending. Consumer sentiment is the lowest it's been since Jimmy Carter right now. People are concerned about this economy. It's Christmas though; they're going to buy something. I just don't think they're going to buy as much.
JONATHAN HOENIG: The tradition of layoffs? Is that what the holiday season is for you Cheryl? It's pretty depressing if it is. It's this holiday season unfortunately for a very obvious reason. The producers, you know those people who actually employ folks, are under attack in this country. We've made consumption the end all be all. We've had all these stimulus programs to stimulate spending, and what do we have now? What's going to be a terrible holiday season. We need to incentivize production; get people to want to make a profit to hire folks. Not make those producers the enemy. They're the employers that we've made it so difficult on in this country. That's why the holiday season's going to suck.
AS MILLIONS OF AMERICANS HIT THE ROADS FOR HOLIDAYS... DID WHITE HOUSE JUST GUARANTEE WE'LL BE HIT WITH HIGHER OIL AND GAS PRICES?
JOHN LAYFIELD: I love talking energy policy because no one in the United States government has done that for the past several decades. We're the only country in the world, developed country, without an energy plan and this is beyond stupid. This Keystone XL pipeline that's going to come across Nebraska with about 50 other different pipelines is being shut down. So, the oil is being produced up in Canada. We get all the CO2 emissions; we get all the bad. If we don't do this, that oil goes to China. On offshore drilling, 60 miles off the coast of Key West, Florida, a Chinese oil rig is drilling into a 40 billion-barrel reservoir. We can't drill it. So we get all the CO2's. If a spill is there, we've got to clean it up. We don't get the oil; we don't get the jobs. We are becoming more and more dependent on foreign oil and it is ridiculous what this administration's doing.
WAYNE ROGERS: Well, yes I think we are (going in the wrong direction) and we know that even in deeper levels there's probably enough oil for several generations and the gas, the amount of natural gas we've got in this country's beyond; so that's something we can use, but I don't think it's going to affect you this season. None of this is going to affect oil prices in the immediate future. You know how long it takes from the time they drill, to the time that gas gets in your tank is years, so that's not going to affect anything. The oil and gas market right now is highly volatile and is still highly volatile. That's what's going to affect you in the next two or three months.
TRACY BYRNES: But not strange when you have Europe about to implode and that's why we're seeing the volatility in the oil market right now. Europe is affecting us on so many levels here at home. So Wayne's right, we're not going to feel the mistakes that the administration is making as far as oil pipelines go for years down the road. I think again, though, it is a national security issue and we need to really focus on that. It's more than just putting oil in your car. It's the notion that we're reliant on countries that hate us to get oil into this country. That is the biggest problem here.
CHRISTIAN DORSEY: I see two very positive things that we're doing. Both the administration working with the automakers; one, by committing to doubling fuel efficiency by 2025, which is going to save consumers a ton of money when it comes to gas at the pump, and then also it's going to reduce our alliance on foreign imports of oil by 25 percent. That's a very positive thing and the regulations on offshore drilling, and by requiring and incentivizing companies to actually pay a fair market price for those lease rights is actually a very good thing in the long term. Instead of sitting on those assets as they have been doing, they're going to be encouraged to execute leases where there's actually oil and gas available, and be encouraged to drill those. That's a very positive step. That's going to change the market and see an increase in oil exploration.
JONATHAN HOENIG: That is the green's goal Cheryl, is to make our use of energy more expensive, so you pay for it at the pump, you pay for it with the green agenda. I disagree with JBL; the President and this country have an energy policy. Unfortunately it's that of environmentalism; about getting us off fossil fuels, using less gas and oil. To me, gas and oil is good. We use them to power the modern world. Yes, it's folks trying to Thanksgiving to be with their families, but it's also medicines; it's sanitation; it's machines; it's the modern world. To any extent we restrict that process: regulations, taxes, this is what the administration does. It drives fuel prices up; makes it harder to use, but the green's love that.
WOULD GETTING RID OF WELFARE HELP GET RID OF POVERTY IN AMERICA?
JONATHAN HOENIG: Well Cheryl, the statistics are very apparent. We've spent more, and yet food stamp usage is at an all-time high; poverty itself is at an all-time high. It's impractical, but even more importantly, it's immoral as well. You know, we take it as a given that this massive welfare state is just part of the American culture and it's really not. It only started in the 1930s and has grown, of course, ever since. Government is not a charity. You violate everyone's rights when you make it one and let individuals help those they want to help; it's not government's role.
CHRISTIAN DORSEY: There's no surprise that we've had an increase in welfare spending since we've had a great recession which has dramatically decreased unemployment, and Jonathan I don't hear you talking about corporate welfare; subsidies to corporate America. You know, this is really an attack on the people in society who are most vulnerable; the indigent; the elderly; the disabled; the homeless. These people are on the bottom rung of the socio-economic ladder. You just want to kick them off entirely.
WAYNE ROGERS: I think it can be reformed. To get rid of it entirely I think is a little crazy, but they are raising a good point about the ideology. The ideology that we're an entitled society has got to be reversed at some point. Otherwise, we'll be just like Greece.
TRACY BYRNES: And Cheryl, it's not just welfare. We're talking about consistently extending unemployment benefits; more people on food stamps now than ever before under the Obama administration. We're just forcing people to sit home and wait for the next check. We're not teaching them to get out there and make money and make this a better society.
JOHN LAYFIELD: It's not working what we're doing right now. Look at the ninth ward in New Orleans; it was worse than a third world country because we just throw money out at generational poverty. We've got to do something to mitigate that and break that cycle. I work with at-risk kids. I've seen it from their side. Money is not what is needed to break this cycle. That's what politicians do just to suppress the issue and get reelected.
WHAT DO I NEED TO KNOW?
WAYNE ROGERS: While most of Europe is going to hell in a hand basket, I think you can trust one great country over there and that's Israel. I like the ETF in Israel, EIS.
TRACY BYRNES: All right Cheryl, get ready to work longer. Eighty is the new 65; people are pushing off retirement. Why? Because they didn't save enough money.
JOHN LAYFIELD: Berlusconi in his last day in office debuts a love song album. The old cruise ship critter - it was a flop, but Google music is not and you can buy it; Google is a pretty good stock. Don't buy the album, it's horrible.
JONATHAN HOENIG: Well Cheryl, I've been hurting on my treasury short's. In fact corporate bonds have been sinking fast. Check out IGS. This is an exchange traded fund that goes up as corporate bonds go down and if rates rise or credit quality concerns spike, it will fly as well.