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This past week's Bulls & Bears: Gary B. Smith, Exemplar Capital managing partner; Pat Dorsey, Morningstar.com director of stock research; Scott Bleier, HybridInvestors.com president; Charles Payne, Wall Street Strategies CEO; John "Bradshaw" Layfield, Northeast Securities senior vice president, and Laura Schwartz , White House Strategies principal.
Trading Pit: Rudy vs. Hillary — Best for Middle Class?
Rudy Giuliani or Hillary Clinton? Which frontrunner would be better for the middle class in America?
Charles: Hands down Rudy! I'm worried about who the Democrats define as middle class. They will tax people making sixty or seventy thousand dollars a year out of the middle class. These people are going to be hit hard by taxes and will lose the ability to buy that flat panel television at Wal-Mart. If Hillary gets elected, your whole way of life is going to be altered dramatically.
Laura: Unlike Rudy, Hillary has a proven record. She's had over 35 years of advocacy, and has been on her own in the Senate for the past six years. She championed great education reform for accessibility and affordability, health care for middle-income families whose children aren't insured, affordable housing, and minimum wage increase. I think people are going to look at her and say, "She's the one that will keep my family moving forward during the next four years".
Gary B.: The only thing Hillary has really run is her own campaign. She's never been in a leadership role like Giuliani. It's really going to boil down to what America wants. If America wants smaller government, lower taxes, and things like choice of school, then they'll elect Giuliani. If they want some big nanny state then they'll elect Hillary.
Bradshaw: The middle class wants whatever is not Hillary. Rudy is better just because he's not Hillary. Her universal health care proposal will kill the middle class. President Bush helped propel this economy by using tax cuts. The Democrats are going to repeal these cuts, and this will amount to the biggest tax hike in history. The President wanted to cut spending for the first time in this last budget, but the Democrats said, "No!" Hillary is the worst thing in the world for the middle class.
Scott: Hillary panders to middle America by penalizing corporate America. Giuliani does the exact opposite. He doesn't pander to the majority block of voters, but instead creates business incentives. This means more jobs for the middle class. So absolutely Rudy!
Pat: The greatest threat to the middle class is the idea that you have to protect American jobs from globalization. This threat is stronger among Democrat, but you see it expressed by some Republicans as well. This is the biggest risk out there. We are the most dynamic economy in the world, and the middle class is the one that benefits most if we trade with other nations and continue to grow. Hillary has generally been pro-trade. Giuliani's party has generally been pro-trade. So as long as you get free trade going, either candidate will be fine.
Should the U.S. Stop Funding the United Nations?
Iranian President Ahmadinejad was just granted a visa to come speak at the United Nations. And not too long ago, Hugo Chavez was also granted the right to come speak. Is all the money the United States puts into the United Nations a waste, since the U.N. is bowing to these dictators? Should we stop funding the UN?
Bradshaw: Absolutely! We just don't spend a billion dollars; we also spend all the security. They have forty acres of waterfront property on the East River that could create billions of dollars for New York City. And it's not just Ahmadinejad and Chavez; look at what the U.N. did after Saddam Hussein fell. Money from the Oil for Food Scam was being used to kill Americans.
Laura: We can't vote out the countries we don't like and can't slash funding or stop funding all together. Even the Bush administration says that would just feed the anti-American sentiment around the world. In 1999, the Helms-Biden law required our U.N. assessments be lowered from twenty-five percent to twenty-two. We could perhaps cap our assessments further or put in a ceiling for what we are doing for peacekeeping efforts.
Charles: Forget the rest of the world if they don't like us! We're doing a great job and have done so much. We've given two trillion dollars to the world since World War II. We're always fighting wars for other people. They're celebrating 50 years of the European Union, and the only reason it worked is because we went over and fixed Kosovo. If they don't like us, too bad. If someone came into your house, kicked over your furniture, kicked your dog, and spit in your face wouldn't you tell them to get out?
Gary B.: It's not a good investment. If we're worried about our standing in the world going down, the UN hasn't done much to prop it up. Since it's been there, I think our standing has plummeted. All the money we spend doesn't seem to have gotten us anything. The U.N probably does some good so it shouldn't go away, but it shouldn't be here.
Scott: We should continue to fund the U.N. The bottom line is you keep your friends close and you keep your enemies closer. Most of the members of the United Nations hates America.
Pat: The UN spends almost $400 million a year buying American goods and services. So some of the money we give them does come back. At the end of the day the U.N. has issues they need to fix, but reform sounds like a better idea than cutting off all funding.
Pat Dorsey picked his four best mutual funds:
Selected American Shares (SLASX )
Oakmark Global Select (OAKWX )
Artisan International Value (ARTKX )
Primecap Odyssey Aggressive Growth (POAGX )
Scott's prediction: Keep your pet safe! Del Monte (DLM ) up 40 percent
Gary B's prediction: Stock rally a fake out; Dow back to 11K before year end
Charles' prediction: Pain in the gas! $3.50/gallon by August
Pat's prediction: Power Up! Crosstex Energy (XTEX ) up 30 percent
Bradshaw's prediction: Get in hot water! Buy PowerShares Water Resources (PHO )
Neil Cavuto was joined by Ben Stein, "Yes, You Can Get a Financial Life" author; Joe Battipaglia, Ryan Beck & Co; Ben Ferguson, "The Ben Ferguson Show" host; Dani Hughes, Divine Capital Markets; Cody Willard, hedge fund manager; and Rebecca Gomez, FOX business correspondent.
Neil Cavuto: More investigations. More subpoenas. But, is Congress using taxpayer money to pursue a political agenda or to help solve America's problems? Ben Stein, what do you say?
Ben Stein: Well you know, this country is besieged with problems. We've got a resurgent Russia that's got control over Western Europe because of energy supply. It's murdering its opponents overseas. We have a mightily powerful China with a terrible human rights record. We have the Muslim/Arabic extremists all over the world. We have South America in flames. And Congress is concentrating on this incredibly trivial issue of political firing of prosecutors, which is done by all Presidents all the time. It's a disgraceful waste of time and money.
Rebecca Gomez: I disagree with Ben because checks and balances are the core of our democracy. We have to look at whether or not this was truly for politics and would give one side of government more power than the other. Aside from that, it's not a waste of taxpayers' dollars. We're talking about one Senate panel, 19 members of the judiciary committee.
Neil Cavuto: Well, the House is going to have hearings too — a lot of hearings.
Rebecca Gomez: Well, yeah. There's other work going on.
Ben Stein: There is work to be done! This country is in peril.
Neil Cavuto: Cody, what do you say?
Cody Willard: Well, the very concept of a government is political, right? So, if you got a Republican boss that comes into power and you are a Democrat, U.S. prosecutor, the issues that you are focusing on are going to be problematic.
Rebecca Gomez: Yes, Cody. But what we're talking about is the Patriot Act. And this is a very sensitive issue. What they're looking into is if the White House abused the privileges of the Patriot Act.
Ben Stein: Look. Clinton fired all 93 of them! Give us a break. Clinton fired all 93 US Attorneys and the Republicans in Congress weren't allowed to say "boo" about it. Bush fired eight after giving them warning, after warning, after warning.
Neil Cavuto: Ben Ferguson, what do you think? What's been the fallout?
Ben Ferguson: I think this is one example of what Congress does wrong. Clinton fired all of his attorneys. You serve at the honor of the President. And you can fire them whenever you want to. But, all of this brings up a bigger issue which is Congress has become reactionary to the newspapers. Lawmakers don't lead on issues any more. They react to what's being covered in the news. That's why they don't get anything done. Congress sees something that members think the American people might care about and they say, "We gotta have hearings." Look at steroids. No one really cared. But, Congress reacted to the media attention of Barry Bonds. They did this with the port deal. They did this after Katrina. They have hearings after it already happened. They don't fix future problems.
Neil Cavuto: Well Dani, let me ask you… if Roger Ailes or Rupert Murdoch fired me, I'd like to have hearings into that.
But Dani, what do you think? It looks like a spectacle.
Dani Hughes: It is a spectacle. And I think the "political Attention Deficit Disorder" has much to do with the fact that everybody is extremely short-sighted and nobody's looking at the long-term investment in this country. Everybody's not looking at Social Security. But the fact is this whole, entire issue is partisan politics. From the beginning when the forced resignations happened to right now, the finger pointing. It's politics as usual.
Neil Cavuto: We have a Wall Street angle. If nothing gets done besides hearings, and lots of them, maybe Wall Street would like it?
Joe Battipaglia: Well, that's true except for the fact that the budget is in disarray. The supplemental was put forward to support the war and now they've porked it up just like the Republicans used to. It's clearly a political action. We have long-term issues with Social Security, Medicare, and Medicaid. No one wants to address those. The AMT is going to whack all the blue states just as much as the red states.
Neil Cavuto: Talking about the Alternative Minimum Tax.
Joe Battipalgia: That's right. The Alternative Minimum Tax. And last, but not least, the President's tax cuts that stimulated the economy are going to roll off over the next several years. What are we going to do about it, and what's the impact? So Wall Street is going to have to start worrying about this.
Rebecca Gomez: But Neil, it's partly on us in the media because we're focusing on these very glamorous, juicy issues. Go to the Senate website. Look up the daily digest. There are tons of hearings going on about the budget, the military, and it's stuff we're not covering!
Cody Willard: We're still talking about serious time and money.
Rebecca Gomez: We're talking about 19 members of the Senate out of 100.
Cody Willard: Nineteen members, correct. And that is a lot of manpower.
Neil Cavuto: Ben Stein, let me ask you this. I have a theory. And it's a crackpot theory, as you know most of mine are. But, I don't think those in Congress who are going after the President with these hearings will be satisfied until everyone has resigned.
And that's it. That's the goal. Am I right?
Ben Stein: Well they want to emasculate President Bush. Everyone else they go after is just a surrogate for Bush. They want to emasculate Bush. This is incredible to me. We have real crises in this world, real, serious crises in this world. Congress wants to hamstring the executive branch instead of working together with the executive. Bush keeps saying, "Work with me. Every problem we have we can work together to solve." And they keep saying, "No, we're not going to work with you. We're going to criticize you and nitpick you."
Joe Battipaglia: It's not a coincidence that the Presidential candidates are running this early in the process. So, you've got your candidates running; you've got the hearings that are ripping down the executive branch. It's very clever timing by the opposition.
Dani Hughes: Ironically, and you've never heard me say this before, Bush is the only one looking at the long-term perspective right now.
And everybody else is really focused on the short-term momentum of this story.
Neil Cavuto: And we should say you're a big liberal.
Dani Hughes: That's right!
Rebecca Gomez: And we should say she just had a baby!
Neil Cavuto: I knew it. As soon as you had that baby you would change. You'd run over to the conservative side.
Dani Hughes: Stone-walling hurts everyone. And I think, frankly, if Congress wants to see it, let's show it. You can't turn back now.
Neil Cavuto: Here's what I worry about, Ben Ferguson. And you can help me with this. And Ben Stein and I can remember what the Watergate hearings were like 24 years ago.
Ben Stein: A little more than that my friend.
Neil Cavuto: Thirty-four! What am I saying? You're exactly right. I told you my math is bad. That was not a very good summer for the markets. And I'm wondering if that's what we have to look forward to?
Ben Ferguson: I think you're absolutely right. And I think if you ran a business like how Congress runs itself right now, which is reaction to everything, your business would fail! You have to lead on issues. We put these people in Washington to lead on issues, and part of it has become a big game. Why is Social Security not fixed? Because no one's willing to compromise on it and get it fixed. The reality is I don't really think the Democrats really think a $1000 child tax credit is a bad thing. They just don't want President Bush to have credit for doing it.
Neil Cavuto: So play out the next two years for me, Cody.
Cody Willard: Well, I don't think this type of stuff has any impact on the market at all. We have some real issues that are going on in the economy with the housing meltdown spreading from sub-prime to other areas.
Neil Cavuto: You know, Ben Stein dismisses our segments when we do them, but I didn't think you would.
Ben Stein: I don't think sub-prime is a phony issue. If you took all the houses and foreclosed on them, the loss would be trivial in the context of the U.S. economy.
Cody Willard: But that's if it stops.
Neil Cavuto: You're saying we're whistling in the graveyard. That's the problem, right?
Cody Willard: I'm saying there are some real problems that will impact the market. This type of stuff doesn't.
Ben Stein: It's already done. That show is over. It's done. We're done with sub-prime as a factor in the markets.
Head to Head
Neil Cavuto: Who needs money when you have YouTube? The free site is spreading political messages faster than any paid advertising. Will that help America get a third party candidate who can win? It's time to go head to head. Cody, what do you think?
Cody Willard: Absolutely! We are at the cusp of the blasting apart of the two-party political system. What's going to happen is sites like YouTube, my site reprevolution.com, will allow for a meritocracy.
Neil Cavuto: It creates buzz. Like that Obama guy who did that clip about Hillary. It creates buzz, right? And establishes a life for a third party candidate?
Joe Battipaglia: Well, except that money draws the advertising that drives the recognition. It's no accident that there are record amounts of money raised to push the candidates into the White House. Take Howard Dean for example, he was great on the Internet early on, but where is he now?
Neil Cavuto: But the Internet's a lot bigger, better, meaner than it was four years ago.
Cody Willard: And it's going to be so much bigger in another eight years.
Joe Battipaglia: True.
Neil Cavuto: Rebecca, what would be the scenario for a third party candidate to benefit from this?
Rebecca Gomez: They may get some traction, like us talking about them, but I don't think it's going to make a huge difference. Look at the polls right now — on the Democrat side, it's Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama. Look at Mitt Romney, who's a legitimate candidate. He's not a third-rate candidate. He's got 91,000 hits on his most popular video on YouTube. We're talking about an audience that's traditionally apathetic and hard to get to the polls. So, if we're talking about YouTube suddenly making a candidate number one? No.
Neil Cavuto: Ben Ferguson, would this gel into something?
Ben Ferguson: I think it definitely can. I think the biggest impact of YouTube will come from the 3rd tier groups; something like what Swiftboat vets' ads did to the [John] Kerry campaign. I think groups are going to be able to say things. I think campaigns are going to use this to get people to say things for them without having to take responsibility for it. I don't think a third-party candidate is going to come out on top because of YouTube. But, can you torpedo a guy's campaign and go after him and say things you couldn't say officially? Absolutely. And that's a huge value to campaigns that may not have a lot of cash to get the dirty laundry out there.
Neil Cavuto: Ben Stein, if Ross Perot had the Internet back in 1992. Would he have won?
Ben Stein: No, I don't believe for a minute that the Internet or YouTube is going to be decisive in this. YouTube is a fun site. I love to go to it. I keep thinking of George Wallace. He was a charismatic guy riding the race issue like a lean, clean jockey… and he rode it very, very far. But even he with YouTube could not have gone far enough. It's a game of money and organization. It's not about new technology.
Joe Battipaglia: And you need people on the street. You need organization. And that's what's going to get the vote.
Cody Willard: Well Neil, we've always heard that the power of the press belongs to those who own the printing press. In 2007, the printing press is free. Broadcasting is free. We are going through a major shift of a mainstream media from being such a capital-intensive industry to one that empowers users to broadcast and publish. We the people have become the media.
More for Your Money
Computers, the Internet, cell phones and iPods have changed our lives. So which companies will the next big innovators? Our gang has the names that could make you a bundle.
Dani: BigBand Networks (BBND)
Cody: SiRF Technology (SIRF)
Joe: ImClone (IMCL)
Ben: iShares Russell 2000 Value Index (IWN)
FOX on the Spot
Dani Hughes: The "Gore-acle" runs and wins in 2008!
Ben Stein: Exxon Mobil is more charitable than Al Gore.
Ben Ferguson: Al Gore's "energy offsets" are a fraud.
Rebecca Gomez: $$$ to be made in the mortgage market "meltdown."
Joe Battipaglia: Good times are over for emerging market stocks!
Neil Cavuto: Expect more hearings, no solutions on Capitol Hill.
In Focus: Special Privileges for Muslims: Good or Bad for Business?
Jim Michaels, editorial vice president: Target should not give special treatment to Muslim cashier workers who do not want to check out pork products. This is not a question of getting their holidays off. Everybody gets his or her holidays off. They are asking for privileges that other people don't have. Religious freedom does not mean you're allowed to disrupt the workplace by putting your own rules in.
Lea Goldman, associate editor: If Target doesn't have a problem with it; I don't know why Jim does. It's not an issue of special privileges, but it goes beyond holidays. For example, companies have long been given dispensations for workers who need their uniforms modified to satisfy religious differences. It tends to make very happy, flexible workplaces. They also tend to be more productive workplaces.
Michele Steele, Forbes.com reporter: The question here is whether businesses should be compelled to accommodate employees who cannot complete the basic responsibilities of the job. In a grocery store, that might actually involve checking out some bacon.
Quentin Hardy, Silicon Valley bureau chief: I don't know why Target made the move. If a Christian doesn't work in a porn store or a gun shop that sells human targets, they just move on. If Target feels they have that many employees and can move them around, let them do it. It's nothing about their religion.
Elizabeth MacDonald, senior editor: I'm all for civil liberties. But when you work in a business, you have entered into a social compact. You're going to do what's right for the customer and do what's right for the business. Either quit or get another job. Even a fellow Muslim worker said these people should just quit. For the Imams to think that they're the next Rosa Parks for getting kicked off an airplane, they weren't. They were really disruptive, and it's about the safety of the passengers first. It is lethally ridiculous to think that hurt feelings matter more than the safety of passengers on a plane.
Neil Weinberg, senior editor: The key thing is reasonable accommodation and I don't think there's anything wrong with that. Target is a big company. However, if you start saying you want to wear a full-face burka on an airline, I say no. Go Greyhound because that's a safety issue.
Jim Michaels: Muslims who don't want to handle alcohol, booze and Israeli goods should work somewhere else.
Flipside: Al Gore's Global Warming Fix Will Only Stop the Economy!
Mike Ozanian, senior editor: Al Gore's plan would send us from a free market economy to a government Socialist-driven economy. It would extract trillions of dollars out of our economy and mostly hurt poor people. It would be a big catastrophe.
Quentin Hardy: You guys have been laughing at Al Gore for 20 years and the science keeps supporting his position. Remember how George H. W. Bush said "Ozone Man" and all those jokes? Now the White House admits global warming is true. But don't worry. Congress belongs to the lobbyists so nothing rash will happen.
Elizabeth MacDonald: I think we have only been on the air for six years, so I don't know if we've been laughing at him for 20. Do I think global warming is happening? Yes. Do I think the Kyoto Treaty is wrong to exclude China and India? Yes. In other words, if we're going to do this right, then have the entire world cut emissions equally and do what's necessary. I also think we need to have more nuclear plants.
Michele Steele: I don't think it's going to happen, quite frankly. A 90 percent reduction in carbon emissions is huge. What's happened though is you have a lot more investor attention and market attention on ethanol, solar energy and fuel cell companies. Look at the opportunities this has brought for investors.
Jim Michaels: This guy invented the Internet. Now he says he's Winston Churchill, saving the people from this terrible global warming menace. He's asking the American people to accept a lower standard of living. At the same time, China and India are creating more and more greenhouse gases. It's unstoppable. It's not the way to go. You go with nuclear power and go with research on better ways to burn coal.
Victoria Barret, associate editor: It's very easy to make fun of Al Gore as we have proven, and a lot of his plans were gimmicky, but he does have a point. Jim, you mentioned China and I think America needs to be the moral leader in this arena. It's great if you want to build a polluting plant in China, but try going for a jog in Beijing. The air is thick as molasses. Is that what we want? That's a lower standard of living.
Mike Ozanian: The temperature of the Earth has increased one degree over the last hundred years and most of that increase came before 1940 when we didn't have as much carbon emissions as we have today.
Quentin Hardy: Go down to South America. Glaciers are disappearing. Water levels are rising.
Mike Ozanian: There were many times in the world where the temperatures were much warmer than they are today. There were times when they predicted an ice age and that never came.
Michele Steele: Look at the price of oil. The temperatures have been rising and that is bad for the economy because you're going to end up with higher retail prices. That's bad for consumer spending.
Elizabeth MacDonald: CO2 emissions are over the top. I agree with Quentin on that, but the science is out on whether solar flares from the sun are affecting the Earth. There's also global warming on Mars as well.
Quentin Hardy: You guys remind me of the tobacco companies saying, "Well, the science isn't in yet." What's wrong with the world's largest consumer of energy getting away from this, implementing energy-saving measures, and investing in this great new industry?
Elizabeth MacDonald: The real issue is that we shouldn't be pejorative and call ourselves the moral equivalent of tobacco executives, or as Gore referred to in his book as "Hitler" if we are skeptical about the science. The issue is: global warming is happening. What's the best way to stop it?
Will Your Home Be Worth More or Le$$ in One Year?
Victoria Barret: I think your house is going to be worth less. In the month of February home values came down even though sales were up. I think we're going to see more of the same because lenders are going to get picky and there is a psychological effect. I think people are going to try to call the bottom of this market and, if they can, they are going to hold off on buying.
Mike Ozanian: Home prices will be up. I think the economy is strong and 96 percent of homes have positive equity. Defaults on subprime loans were even higher in 2001, and we saw once that rebounded, home prices went way up.
Lea Goldman: I'm with Victoria. Though the subprime thing right now seems like a tempest in a teapot, lenders are really going to tighten their belt and eliminate first-time homebuyers from the market.
Elizabeth MacDonald: For the overall housing market, I think if you live in California, the Boston area, Florida or certain parts of New York, you will see some flattening of home prices. However, Ben Bernanke's interest rate regime is rational. I think it will be flat to growing. Incomes are high and the job market is going strong.
Jim Michaels: Down. I agree with Mike that demand is still there. People still want houses, the population is growing, but there is a huge overhang of inventory. There are a lot more speculative buyers that will have to sell. As long as inventory has to be brought down, how do you bring it down? Only one-way: you lower prices. And it is already happening. It is not a crash.
Informer: Bargain Buy$!
Michele Steele: Human Genome (HGSI)
Lea Goldman: Wendy's (WEN)
Mike Ozanian: Centex (CTX)
Neil Weinberg: KB Home (KBH)
Our Cashin' In crew this week: Wayne Rogers, Wayne Rogers & Co; Jonathan Hoenig, CapitalistPig Asset Management; Dagen McDowell, FOX Business News; Adam Lashinsky, Fortune Magazine; Stuart Varney, FOX Business News; Cheryl Casone, FOX Business Now; and William Gheen, Americans for Legal Immigration.
Stock Smarts: $ocialism $care?
GOP Presidential contender John McCain warning that socialism is spreading. He also says that capitalism is the best way to beat socialist dictators like Hugo Chavez. Should every capitalist in America worry?
Jonathan: I don't support the senator's campaign but I do think he is right. The basic issue in the world today is capitalism, which upholds individual rights versus socialism, in which individuals have no rights. Socialism is a growing trend and it worries me that Hugo Chavez's influence is spreading. We now have people on both sides of the aisle in our country talking about nationalized healthcare. Of course, that means socialized healthcare. Even some politicians in America say Chavez is well intentioned because it's all about helping the poor.
Dagen: It is growing, but we're the ones funding Hugo Chavez's fascist campaign through Latin America because we pour tens of millions of dollars into Venezuela with oil money every day. That really needs to stop. If we cut demand, then we cut off money flow.
Stuart: Jonathan is absolutely right. Socialism is a threat, but the threat is not to the people of the United States. The threat is for the poor people in Latin America who are now imprisoned in a corrupt socialist economy. They are the ones losing in all of this.
Wayne: I don't think it is a good campaign issue, but Stuart is right. Any spread of socialism is not going to affect us that much. It will affect those in South America. The middle class is the main ingredient to democracy and capitalism. If you don't have a middle class, you cannot succeed. Suppose South America goes through the same kind of socialist revolutions that China or the Soviet Union did and ultimately capitalism comes out of that. It's a long shot, but it may be a step forward.
Cheryl: We do have a threat. Our markets are already feeling the effects of what Hugo Chavez is doing because we buy a lot of oil. He is trying to curb inflation by seizing money from the central bank and then trying to cut back inflation by manipulating the central bank. It would be like President Bush asking Federal Reserve chief Ben Bernanke to change the way he surveys the American economy.
Adam: Socialism is not the "ism" that is the problem. It's anti-Americanism. We don't really care what Chavez's ideology is. All of South America is not going to turn socialist and have a domino effect on the United States. That's nonsense. The problem is this is a leader who hates our country. He's manipulating his people that are poor. We haven't been doing enough to help them by sending the image of our culture into their part of the world.
Congress Gets Involved: Death Knell for Hou$ing?
The housing market hiccups and Congress holds hearings. Some are calling for the mortgage business to be subject to more regulation. Would a heavier hand from the government be the death knell for housing?
Cheryl: I hope Congress completely stays out of the mortgage lending business. There's nothing to be done. Wall Street has already punished the subprime companies. We've had four bankruptcies and there's no way that the government can do better than the industry. The problem has already been taken care of.
Stuart: I'm going to surprise everybody. I'm a conservative and this is a classic example of where we need government regulation. Where were the regulators when we were making all these loans? No documentation! No proof of income! The government has a legitimate role in our economy of regulation. There's nothing wrong with it. I don't want political interference, but I do want rational, deliberate regulation.
Dagen: We are just beginning to see the shake out in the higher risk mortgages in subprime lending. You cannot change the rules, as that is going on because you will discourage other businesses from coming in and buying the subprime lenders.
Wayne: This is crazy. You know that the government is already in the mortgage business through the FHA? The government does supply a certain element of that. All the banks are highly regulated already. We don't need any more regulation.
Adam: The problem is that you can't regulate or legislate stupidity. There's been a lot of stupidity in this market. It's plain to see that "no-doc" loans were a stupid thing. It's plain to see that teaser loans were also stupid and all sorts of people encouraged it to happen. There's nothing you can do to stop it.
Jonathan: If someone took out a mortgage and couldn't afford it, it is their problem. It's their fault. It is not the role of the government to step in.
Bank of America CEO Pay: Rewards for Helping Illegals?
Bank of America CEO Ken Lewis made $23 million last year. This mega-payday came as his company offers a credit cart program that many believe is designed to help illegals get a card. Was he rewarded for helping illegal immigrants?
William Gheen: With stock options, he made $97 million last year. You would think the man that the American consumer has been so generous to would not be as eager to thumb his nose and insult those conservative, pro-business Americans that are upset. Bank of America is selling out America and Americans by supporting illegal aliens. Ken Lewis runs the risk of becoming the Ken Lay of illegal immigration. What he is doing is either illegal or it should be.
Jonathan: What is he doing? He's building an amazingly successful bank. He's been with the bank since 1969. He has made it into the largest commercial lender in the States and the third largest company in the world. He's been on every "Best Banker" list and "Top CEO of the Year". He took a bank that was started by immigrants and made it into a major financial service company.
William: That was done before Bank of America was caught last month helping illegal aliens. Jonathan, you use the term immigrants, but we're not talking about immigrants. We're talking about illegal aliens. These are illegal aliens that Bank of America is aiding and abetting.
Jonathan: What are they doing that is criminal? It's like you are saying they are criminal because they exist.
William: In this country, it is illegal to knowingly aid and abet other people in crimes. Being an illegal alien is a crime. Also, we need to get an answer from Congress. We're glad that over 50 members of Congress are supporting legislation to close any loopholes, but we need to know how many billions of dollars the American taxpayers had to put in through these banks of taxpayer liability. How much do we owe because he wants to give credit cards to illegals?
Jonathan: I just don't understand how a guy picking cabbage and charging groceries is violating your rights. They are essentially the backbone of this country.
William: Americans are the backbone of this country. People have sworn loyalty to the United States constitution and the American republic.
Jonathan: What about a guy who gets on a raft or travels 100 miles through the Mexican desert because he wants to sweep up in a restaurant for $2 an hour? I think that's a pretty good devotion to the principles of life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.
William: I don't think anyone in this country should be working for $2 an hour. It was ridiculous to think that in the year 2007 we would go to the borderline days of slavery by having people work for $2/hour. You might like that Jonathan and some of your big business friends might like that, but that's not the way America operates.
Best Bets: $tock Beautie$
Jonathan: MarketAxess (MKTX)
Friday's close: $16.95
Adam: Genentech (DNA)
Friday's close: $82.56
Wayne: Vimpel Communications (VIP)
Friday's close: $96.68