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 GOVTERNMENT'S GREEN INVESTMENTS MAKING COUNTRY MORE PROSPEROUS?
RICH KARLGAARD: These green jobs are costing about $200,000 per job. You compare that to the American capital investment industry which creates a job for about every $20,000 of investments so 1/10 the cost in the private sector. The government isn't keeping pace with what's going on in the world. By the time it funds these companies, its way behind. The time Solyndra got funded by the government; the Chinese price was already far beyond what Solyndra could match. 70 percent of these green investments are going towards financial backers of this administration. For all of those reasons, it should be shut down.
RICK UNGAR: It may not be paying off today but we can't make decisions about our future based on what's working today. If we do this Rich's way, we would be raising the white flag and capitulating to China who is spending enormous amounts of money subsidizing their solar industry is that we want? Do we want our kids working for Chinese companies and middle management? Or do we want them to give them the opportunity to own these companies? It's looking down the road. This cannot be a good thing for the United States.
MIKE OZANIAN: On a cost basis, it's really hurting business and our recovery. On a cost per kilowatt hour, these green programs are much less sufficient than traditional sources of energy. Solar power is 35 cents per kilowatt hour. Oil, natural gas, coal, all below a nickel. It's a real detriment to our economy, all these green programs right now.
ELIZABETH MACDONALD: The president has clearly lost the plot line the inconvenient truth is this; when you're driving and you're at the wheel and you see a historic crack-up like we just experienced, one of the worst downturns ever, you do reckless moon shots on fly by night companies that will not return investments back to the U.S. taxpayer, will not create jobs. If this was such a great program, why did the president himself disavow the green energy program saying "understand this is not our program per say" if it was so great why is he walking back away from it?
JOHN TAMNY: This is just beyond sad. The Obama administration is saying that their investments are stimulating the economy, but if that were true, these would be profitable investments. If they were profitable, the Obama administration would not need to make the investments that the private sector does not want to. What we don't know here and what we will never know, are the companies and jobs that were never created because we are sending limited capital in the direction of something that markets don't want. Let's shut this down. If there are such good investments in China we will happily import their innovations if they ever make market sense.
TIME FOR PUBLIC WORKERS TO KICK-IN MORE FOR THEIR BENEFITS?
ELIZABETH MACDONALD: Across the country, taxpayers are waking up to the fact that they are not living in a democracy when it comes to state government worker benefits. The state constitutions have it rigged against them, like New York, California, Illinois, where the constitutions say that you aren't even allowed to negotiate government pensions that are swallowing entire cities. Detroit's pension costs are surpassing what they spent on government worker wages. Our taxes have gone up, even through the housing bust. State and local taxes have continued to rise to fund these fat cat pensions where people can get to retire at ¾ their worker pay. That's not fair.
BILL BALDWIN: It's ok to take away pension credit for years not yet worked. It's ok to make state employees chip in more, that's fair. It is not fair, not legal and not constitutional to take away any pension credit. That was too much, yes it was mistake, but listen let me ask you, what if you put money into your 401K, and your employer decided "I don't want to fund pensions anymore" He can stop matching. But he can't go into your account and take away money that you have already earned and set aside.
MIKE OZANIAN: Many of the promised pensions and medical benefits in future years are based on phony assumptions and investment returns. States like California put in over 12 percent of assumed returns in their pension investments. What towns should say "if I want to spend $1 million dollars on my public services, I'm going to pay them that amount this year. That will make them make the hard choice.
RICK UNGAR: would love to know what constitutional provision Liz is referring to because guess what? Last year in my hometown of Los Angeles, the mayor sat down with the public employee unions and renegotiated the existing contracts. Our state constitution applies to our local towns. As we are sitting here right now, the city of Los Angeles is once again engaged in a renegotiation of a union contract.
RICH KARLGAARD: I suppose they can but they obviously are not in Illinois and more many states. Oz identified the crucial fact. These pensions are assuming returns on capital of 8 percent, 10 percent and 12 percent. We now live in a world where any credible fund manager will tell you that the most return you are going to get without putting your money at risk is about 4 percent or 5 percent. So these outrages promises based on outrageous mythical returns have to be renegotiated.
U.S. BANKS AND OTHER PRIVATE U.S. INVESTMENT GROUPS ARE LENDING MORE TO EUROPEAN COMPANIES; ARE THEY RISKING ANOTHER TAXPAYER BAILOUT?
John Tammy: Not because they're lending to Europe, but because banks are a protected class in the United States. For one, because regulations like Dodd Frank will not work. You're asking people with such low ambition to be regulators; to oversee the greatest financial minds on earth, by definition, they'll fail. After that Dodd Frank made clear-that big banks' failures will be contained, which means that taxpayers will pay for errors not their own. This is not capitalism, this is the opposite of capitalism, whereby we do not allow failure anymore.
Rick Ungar: I seriously doubt it and it's strangely my interpretation of Dodd Frank varies from John's-go figure. I don't think we have to worry about it, but if you want to make sure, get the provisions of Dodd Frank in place and it'll all be good.
Elizabeth MacDonald: I'm more worried about the Federal Reserve and what their moves are with Europe because the world is a wash in dollars and we're misdiagnosing the problem in Europe. It's a problem of insolvency with very poor business plans and no liquidity. The leverage loans, though, are going to pretty decent companies like Formular 1 or banking software companies. I'm not too worried about that, I'm more worried about the Federal Reserve.
Mike Ozanian: I agree with John, that Dodd Frank, most of which has been implemented is a disaster, but I think the bigger threat to bailouts is lack of bank growth. Banks aren't as innovative as they were and I think that in fact banks are better capitalized-they have better capital than our banks during any time in the past 75 years, but they're not growing which is why the stocks are so cheap.
Bill Baldwin: Alas every bank is either too big to fail or too politically connected to fail. Easy solution-you require them to have 25 percent equity, much more than they do now, then we could repeal the Volcker Rule, we could repeal Dodd Frank, and the other idiotic regulations.
STOCKS INFORMERS ARE BUYING IN THIS SHAKY MARKET
ELIZABETH MACDONALD: MACQUARIE INFRASTRUCTURE (MIC)
52-WEEK HIGH: $35.86
52-WEEK LOW: $19.85
BILL BALDWIN: VANGUARD EMERGING MARKETS (VWO)
52-WEEK HIGH: $49.65
52-WEEK LOW: $34.21