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.
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; John "Bradshaw" Layfield, WWE superstar and Northeast Securities senior vice president; Ray Hennessey, managing editor of FOXBusiness.com.
Trading Pit: Housing 'Fire $ale': Time To Buy?
This past weekend, homebuilder Hovnanian had a wild sale like none seen before! Slashing prices up to $100,000. Will this save our housing market or cause it to collapse?
GARY B: This is a terrific sign! When a company like Hovnanian slashes prices, it's going to get a lot more people into houses. Rates and mortgages are still historically low. The market reacted very positively to the news. Hovnanian was up almost ten percent on Friday. This signals a bottom in the housing market.
RAY: I would hate to be the guy living next door to the house that just sold for two hundred thousand dollars less than what you paid for it. There is now an expectation among consumers that they are going to get low prices. This is going to lower home prices and decrease the value of homes. The valuation matrix has changed, and if it goes down in the rest of the country, it everybody is impacted.
TOBIN: On Monday we'll find out how successful Hovnanian's plan was, because we'll see how many new contracts the company got. If this works, every other homebuilder is going to follow Hovnanian. It is ultimately good for the economy—not in the short-term, but in the long term. This is the beginning of the healing process.
BRADSHAW: Hovnanian did a great thing and the market applauded it. But they are the first. This is a harbinger of things to come. Home prices are the last thing to go down in a housing slump. However, it's going to get worse before it gets better.
SCOTT: Home prices have held up pretty well throughout the carnage of the past few months. This is the long awaited official kick off of home prices finally starting to come down. This is not great news because home prices will be lower and people will "feel" poorer because their homes will be worth less.
PAT: We should take this for what it is. Hovnanian did this because they need to raise cash, and that's a company specific issue not an economic issue.
English Only: Good or Bad for Business?
Habla ingles? Then forget about watching the last Democrats' debate! It was in Spanish—the first ever! But does that make sense for American businesses? Is it good business to say, "English only!"
BRADSHAW: Speak what you want at home or in the break room, but business would be better off instituting an English spoken in business settings policy. English is the unofficial language of business. It is also the unofficial language of this country. What is spoken in break rooms and in the private areas of business doesn't matter. If you don't know English, you hamper yourself as a businessman. It makes it harder to get a loan and do basic business chores.
TOBIN: Businesses are going to do business with people in whatever language because they are the market. A smart businessman does not go about saying what language they want their customers to speak. If their customer is a non-English speaking, and they want to do business with them, then you have to do it.
GARY B: "English only" could be very good for business, but only if it's going to attract more customers. If it's speaking English is not going to attract more customers, than you need Spanish or whatever language. It goes back to the debate whether companies should say, "Happy Holidays" or "Merry Christmas". If they think they are going to attract more customers saying, "Merry Christmas", than that's the way they go. This is the same sort of debate; businesses shouldn't put limits on itself.
Roll out the green carpet… for the $tock Emmy$.
TOBIN: Lululemon Athletica (LULU)
BRADSHAW: EMC (EMC)
PAT: Energy Conversion Devices (ENER)
GARY B: Research In Motion (RIMM)
SCOTT: Health Net (HNT)
Gary B's prediction: NY Times (NYT) sinks to new lows! Stock cut in half
Scott's prediction: $3.50 gas by Thanksgiving; Tesoro (TSO) gains 33 percent
Bradshaw's prediction: Go Nuclear! Cameco (CCJ) doubles in 3 years
Tobin's prediction: Britney makes big beautiful! Dress Barn (DBRN) up 25 percent
Ray's prediction: Tech stocks get even stronger; buy PowerShares QQQ (QQQQ)
Pat's prediction: E*Trade (ETFC) trades up for 50 percent gain in 2 years
On Saturday, September 15, 2007, Neil Cavuto was joined by Alexis Glick, FNC director of Business News; Charles Payne, wstreet.com; Tracy Byrnes, NY Post business writer; Laura Schwartz, White House Strategies; Leigh Gallagher, Fortune magazine; and Rick Lazio, JP Morgan Chase.
Head to Head: Hillary's Health Care Plan: Best Rx for America?
Neil Cavuto: Hillary's Clinton's ready to unveil her national health care plan. Is it the best prescription for America's health care system?
Charles Payne: Obviously, we have a problem. But, we have to look at some of these universal health care plans and look at the whole package. The whole package means you'll probably be making 25 percent less than what you're making right now, being taxed at 50 percent more than what you're being taxed at right now, and having a lesser quality of health care. I don't think that's the solution.
Neil Cavuto: Alexis, what Hillary is trying to say is if you had done what I wanted to do back in 1993-1994, we wouldn't be in this pickle. Is she revisiting the same deal? Will she get the same response?
Alexis Glick: Hillary has absolutely no choice but to revisit it. That is how people remember her. It is probably the number one issue she has to deal with in terms of getting elected. And like Charles mentioned, health care is a problem. We have to deal with it. We're always talking, but we're not executing. As far as I'm concerned, put everybody in a room. Put the executive in a room. Put the American people in a room. Put the politicians in a room, and let's have a debate because it is one of the biggest issues in this country and we're not coming up with solutions.
Neil Cavuto: Rick Lazio, you took on Hillary Clinton for the U.S. Senate seat. You lost that one.
Rick Lazio: You had to remind people…
Neil Cavuto: What do you think of that? That maybe the time and appetite has come for some sort of new health care plan and that Americans seem to be more predisposed to it than they were a dozen years ago?
Rick Lazio: Well, it's a huge problem. It was a huge problem in 1993. And it's still a huge problem. There are 45 million uninsured people. There's a lot of people who are covered by Medicaid, but don't take advantage of it. I personally think we should give Hillary some time to explain what her plan is. Let's give her more of an opportunity than what some people gave George Bush when he outlined what I thought was a very credible health care plan; one that would eliminate some of the tax advantages that some corporations get, decrease the incentive for people to overspend on health care, and try to provide more subsidies for lower-income people who want to have more of a choice. I think the problem with the government getting involved in health care is we want consumers to have choice, to be well-informed. Those one-size-fits-all plans don't work well.
Neil Cavuto: Well, here's my worry, Tracy: This is to address the 15 percent in this country who don't have health care. For 85 percent, it's not as huge an issue. So for the sake of the 15 percent who do not, do we just scrap it all for the 85 percent who do? And do we address that?
Tracy Byrnes: I think we have to get away from this whole notion of reform. Maybe we take baby steps with this thing. They're waiting in lines for heart surgeries overseas. People are dying before they ever get there. Universal health care is just access to a waiting list in many countries. And don't forget, just giving a person access to health care coverage isn't going to make them healthier. I think we have to come back to this notion of preventive health care, instead of trying to get everybody on an equal playing field. There are so many people who are eligible for health care, but choose to not have it. It's important to look at reforming what we have, little by little, as opposed to this huge overhaul. There's way too much going on and too much money being spent, between what we have going on now with Iraq and terrorism, to do something like overhauling health care. It will never go through. We don't have the money to do this.
Neil Cavuto: Leigh, what do you think of that? That we don't have the money and now's not the time?
Leigh Gallagher: I disagree. I do think we need to think big otherwise nothing's ever going to get done. And Neil, to your point about the 85 percent and 15 percent, for one thing, that 15 percent is really growing, so 5 or 10 years from now, it's going to be more. And with the 85 percent, everybody's costs will go up as this problem gets worse. This problem really does affect everybody.
Neil Cavuto: So you're saying we have to think big. Does that mean we have to accept the big price tag to do it?
Leigh Gallagher: I think it's very interesting. Hillary is working at a disadvantage here. There is a taint from what happened last time around. I think there's this knee-jerk response to the word universal: Universal health care means our taxes will go up. If you look at what Mitt Romney did in Massachusetts, the plan there was to take a billion dollars from what was spent on the uninsured, which by the way is not just people who live in poverty, it's working, healthy people in their 20s who just can't pay for it…
Neil Cavuto: You know this like an encyclopedia…
Neil Cavuto: But, what Romney's trying to do is offer private incentives to get businesses to go ahead and insure their workers. But Laura, the thing that comes back to a lot of regular Americans is big government stepping in in a big way.
Laura Schwartz: And that's why Hillary has to be so careful with this reform package. This has to be a partnership between the government, the employer, and the employees. Everyone sharing the brunt. It's interesting. There is that 15 percent of uninsured people that Hillary's plan would help, but it would also help that 85 percent of Americans who can't get accurate care.
Neil Cavuto: How do you know that it will? How do you know that the cure won't be worse than the disease?
Laura Schwartz: Well, because we have to try something here Neil. I come from a self-employed family. My parents had to pay all their insurance, $800-$1000 a month, and that's a lot for a struggling, small business.
Neil Cavuto: Charles, my experience with this President, the Medicare prescription plan started out being originally $250 billion, it moved up to $400 billion, and at last count it's costing $650 billion. So, good intentions have a price tag.
Charles Payne: Absolutely. And if you look at things like the SCHIP situation and people at four-times the poverty level getting covered… after a while, somebody's gotta pay a big price. I'm willing to listen to what Hillary has to say, but it's going to come out that that insurers, the drug makers, you name it are going to get punished.
Neil Cavuto: Ok, Alexis. If it costs more, can you pay for all of this by just hiking taxes on the rich?
Alexis Glick: Well listen. That's going to be the $64,000 question here. Who bears the brunt of the costs?
Neil Cavuto: Actually, a lot more than $64,000…
Alexis Glick: Yes, exactly! We're talking about billions of dollars. This is a $2.1 trillion dollar system. Health care costs are outpacing inflation, the number of uninsured is growing year by year, and more and more employers are not offering health care coverage. I don't care who you are. The American family is paying more for health care than they have in decades. And that's problem. If you're paying up to $12,000 a year, that's a lot of money. Where do we find that money?
Neil Cavuto: No, what they're gonna do is they're going to hike taxes on Charles… which would cover a lot of people!
Laura Schwartz: Neil, there are other ways to pay for this besides just hiking taxes. Hillary's already talked about that. For example, having electronic records or saving money where people are bilking the system. A lot of people without health care insurance are bilking our tax dollars because go to the ER for care.
Head to Head: Fast Food Police: Starving the Free Market?
Neil Cavuto: Have you heard about this? An LA councilwoman wants to stop fast food joints from opening up in South LA to stop obesity. Are the so-called fast food police starving the free market? Let's go to a very thin and fit Alexis Glick. I think this is stupid…
Alexis Glick: I just want you to know that I go to McDonald's all the time.
Neil Cavuto: Oh, you do not. You don't know what the inside of a McDonald's looks like!
Alexis Glick: I do. I do. Literally, every Friday I go to McDonald's. And I can't live without McDonald's french fries. So, I'm the worst to talk about this. But, I think the plan is ridiculous. You cannot control what we eat. It's our choice. We live in America.
Neil Cavuto: Tracy, I think what the councilwoman is trying to say is if we spread out the fast food restaurants and we don't put a Wendy's right across from McDonald's, right next to a Burger King, and make people actually walk to these places, we'd be less inclined to go?
Tracy Byrnes: It's crazy. It's a free country. This is what our country's built on. And if Burger King wants to make a ridiculous business decision by putting itself right next to a Wendy's and McDonald's…
Neil Cavuto: But, they always do. Ever noticed that?
Tracy Byrnes: And it seems to work. But, you can't blame McDonald's for the fact that your jeans that don't fit. And you know what? These guys are offering healthy choices these days. They're making more and more of an effort. So choose the apples, not the fries.
Neil Cavuto: That's a stupid decision, by the way.
Neil Cavuto: Laura, what do you make of that?
Laura Schwartz: Well, the councilwoman is tackling the right issue, but completely in the wrong way. I don't think she's trying to attack the free market. She's trying to attack obesity. But c'mon. You have the healthy alternatives like we've talked about, but do I ever get the mixed salad when I can get the fries? No. What they have to do is look to education. If you put a moratorium on the fast food restaurants, they're going to build a block over. They have to look at changing habits, not changing restaurants.
Neil Cavuto: Well, that's why I go for a couple of Big Macs, but with a Diet Coke. I always love people who do that… you know, covering yourself.
Neil Cavuto: But Rick, obviously the fast food guys are realizing everyone's on us. We have to do something. Will they respond to this on their own and say before they come and get us, we will spread out?
Rick Lazio: I don't know if they need to do that. What they need to do is do a better job of disclosing public information and helping to empower customers to make good choices, and not have the pressure build up to the point where something like this occurs and politicians feel like they have the answer to everything. The fast food restaurants can do more things inside the schools to help. Give kids information about nutritional value. In the last 30 years or so, we've had a 400 percent increase in childhood obesity of kids between the ages of 6 and 11. That's not just because of food choices. That's because they're sitting in front of the TV for hours and they're not getting any exercise.
Neil Cavuto: It's not a problem if they're watching FOX News.
Rick Lazio: Well, exactly.
Neil Cavuto: Well, what do you make of that Charles? That personal responsibility is the problem and we're not addressing that?
Charles Payne: It is the problem. If this were to take off, I'd say move over crack epidemic… hello burger epidemic. The reality is politicians pander to their constituents, instead of saying you guys are making big mistakes. I wish one politician would stand up and say, "You guys are obese because of poor habits. You guys aren't passing literacy tests because the kids aren't doing homework at night." I wish one politician had the heart to do it.
Neil Cavuto: They should do it while eating a cannoli.
Alexis Glick: You should run for politics!
Charles Payne: Listen, I want to help everybody so badly. But lack of accountability really is an epidemic in this country.
Tracy Byrnes: I agree.
Neil Cavuto: Laura, what do you make of that?
Laura Schwartz: Well, there are some cities that are making great strides, whether it's by offering health walks or healthy cooking classes for free. That's the way to go. And some high schools, middle schools, and elementary schools are changing the way they feed the kids so they can teach healthy habits to the kids when they're young.
Charles Payne: It sounds like you were just in Oz. I mean, we just read off the stats. You've gotta be kidding me! Everyone's avoiding the issue.
Laura Schwartz: Charles, these plans are working in places like Arizona and California.
Charles Payne: What about the urban areas?
Laura Schwartz: Let's talk about the urban areas! Right here in Chicago. A healthy food program for breakfast and for lunch. These plans have just come about in the last two years when we've seen the obesity rates climb. I think this is the way of the future.
Neil Cavuto: Those plans are working in Arizona because it's hot…
More for Your Money
Neil Cavuto: It doesn't matter if you're a year or 25 years away from retirement, our pros have the funds to help you relax and enjoy life after work. It's time to get "More for Your Money."
Leigh Gallagher: PRIMECAP Odyssey Growth (POGRX)
Charles Payne: T Rowe Price Blue Chip (TRBCX)
Tracy Byrnes: Oakmark International (OAKIX)
FOX on the Spot
Tracy Byrnes: Britney's Moves Helps MTV; Buy Viacom!
Alexis Glick: Bank of America Overreaching with $3 Fee
Rick Lazio: Dems Clash over CAFE; Energy Bill Stalls
Charles Payne: America-Haters Leave OPEC; Buy Smith Int'l (SII)
Laura Schwartz: Rudy Launches Ad War; Attack on Hillary Will Backfire
Neil Cavuto: Dems Move On from MoveOn.org
In Focus: Did MoveOn.org Ad Move Money Away From the Dems?
Mike Ozanian, Senior Editor: This is going to splinter the Democratic Party and move money away from the far left, like Hillary Clinton. It's one thing when you go out and attack other politicians, but when you go out and attack a General and a solider, simply because they didn't say things you wanted them to say, that's going to hurt you with mainstream America.
Quentin Hardy, Silicon Valley Bureau Chief: General Petraeus has had tougher days than this. For the rest of this country it's just the extreme dissonance of democratic politics. After Republican rule that ruined General Shinseki's career, for disagreeing with how many troops would be needed and ruined General Taguba about speaking the truth about Abu Ghraib. A little extreme dissonance and holding people to the facts is probably welcome.
Steve Forbes, Editor-in-Chief: This won't move money away from the Democratic Party. The base loves this kind of thing, even though the general public doesn't. It hurts politically. Hillary Clinton could have used this opportunity to stand up to these extreme elements, like Bill Clinton did in the 1990s. She passed on the opportunity so I think this is going to hurt her. The Democratic Party will still get the money, they'll just lose Independents and moderates.
John Rutledge, Forbes Contributor: The ad this week was somewhere between stupid and treasonous. It's outrageous to do something like that to an army officer. But I've come up against MoveOn before. They were the drivers behind the Net Neutrality campaign. This is a massively powerful, grassroots new media marketing organization. This is an advertising campaign. They're really good. I think they will recover, they won't do this again and they'll go after real big money for the Democrats.
Josh Lipton, Forbes.com Staff Writer: I think this will motivate Democratic activists to get involved and contribute money. But I think in a general campaign it does alienate moderates. Most Americans see a difference between attacking a politician and attacking a decorated profession soldier.
Lacey Rose, Forbes.com Sr. Reporter: I think it's wishful thinking on the part of the Republicans to think that there is going to be a backlash against the Democrats. Just as it was wishful thinking for the Democrats to think that the swift boat ads back in 2004 were going to have a negative effect. We all know who won that election.
Flipside: America "Needs" a Recession!
Neil Weinberg, Senior Editor: It would be good for America to have a recession. A recession is symptom. It gets rid of the cause, which is excess in the economy. I know people on the right like to blame the Fed for pumping too much money into the economy. But the truth is, this is how we clean out excess.
Steve Forbes: Saying an illness is good for you is preposterous. Recessions often happen because of mistakes by the government, not by the private sector. A recession would hurt the innocent as well as the guilty.
Mike Ozanian: It's good for America to have a mild recession right now. If we don't and we allow the Fed to pump even more money in to handle this credit crisis, we're going to have a Jimmy Carter-like year of stagflation.
Quentin Hardy: Do we really need a recession after a Bush recovery that's seen the average American lose access to health care and see no real rise in wages? And now they need some hard times? That's crazy
Elizabeth MacDonald, Senior Editor: When you look at the statistics there were more bankruptcies in 1995 versus 2005, when we were in a recession. So the facts don't support that a recession would help the economy.
Bill Baldwin, Editor: We don't need a recession, what we do need is a tough Federal Reserve that maybe would even raise interest rates. It's high time that we take the condo flippers and the hedge fund speculators down a peg.
Is Bad Behavior Now Good for Business?
Josh Lipton: Bad behavior is good for business. Alcohol and the occasional sex tape help celebrities commercially. It gets their names and products out there. The truth is, standards are so low that there is no stigma attached to you career because of bad behavior.
Bill Baldwin: If you have no talent a bit of notoriety could help you sell some books or albums. But if you do have any talents as an entertainer or as an athlete then being drunk doesn't help your income. Look at Kobe Bryant, the whiff of scandal hurt his image.
John Rutledge: I think we've come a long way from the days of Spencer Tracy and Katherine Hepburn when the studios would cover things up. Unfortunately today if you want to get the viewer's attention you have to shock them. It's very unfortunate though, because it keeps the real news from getting out there.
Steve Forbes: It's one thing to be outrageous and in control but being out of control, you can hurt yourself. Britney Spears could have had a great career and make a lot of money but now it is just downwards.
Elizabeth MacDonald: I think Americans are sick of this acting out.
Informer: "Bad" Stocks; Good Profits
Bill Baldwin: Bank of America (BAC)
John Rutledge: Bear Stearns (BSC)
Neil Weinberg: Altria (MO)
Elizabeth MacDonald: Halliburton (HAL)
Our Cashin' In crew this week: Dagen McDowell, Fox Business News; Jonathan Hoenig, CapitalistPig Asset Management; Jonas Max Ferris, MaxFunds.com; Jerry Bowyer, Benchmark Financial Network; and Ann Coulter, "If Democrats Had Brains, They'd Be Republicans" Author
Stock Smarts: Wall Street's Bigger Worry: War With Iran or Iran With Nukes?
Iran continues rebuffing demands to stop its nuclear program. Now the U.S. is said to be drawing up bombing plans just in case. What's a bigger worry for Wall Street: a preemptive war with Iran or an Iran armed with nukes?
Ann: I assume it would not be good for Wall Street if we were all dead. I say act now. I remember the day we went into Iraq — the stock market really rallied which suggested to me that the polls weren't precisely accurate.
Jonas: Now is not the time to wage war with Iran, financially speaking. Both are bad situations, but the market would fall more if we announce a preemptive strike on Iran than if it was announced they had a nuclear weapon. With high oil prices, current expenditures of the government, and a slowing economy, this is not the time to wage war with Iran.
Jonathan: I don't think we are being held hostage by oil prices. I can't believe we're just now drawing up war plans with Iran? Where have we been since 1979? Iran is the spiritual and financial heart of militant Islam. That's the real problem here, and not Usama bin Laden or the insurgency, which is the real war we're fighting. Thus far, we've been terribly weak. What are we doing to fight Iran now - cutting off their bank accounts? This is appeasement by every other name.
Jerry: This is the diplomacy stage. George Bush did something very smart by showing that he's willing to use force in Afghanistan and Iraq. This doesn't mean we should use force at a moment's notice. War is not the first item to have on your agenda. Start with diplomacy and then use force if it's needed. Diplomacy works if the opposing country is sure force will be used to back it up.
Dagen: Without question, the stock market would plummet if we bombed Iran right now because oil prices would spike. Oil prices are already at $80/barrel. We would see $100 or higher. Even though we don't buy oil directly from Iran, it is still the fourth largest producer/supplier to the world. Oil prices would rocket and I don't think U.S. consumers could deal with that right now.
Jonathan: We don't need a "George Bush" war where we go in and build roads and schools and make everyone happy. We need a war that actually protects America. That starts with taking out the nuclear threat from Iran. We know of 10-15 sites there and we have the technology. We just don't have the guts to use it.
Jerry: Does anyone seriously believe a preemptive war with Iran is our first option and that it would be good for the markets? Dagen is absolutely right; the markets would plummet that day. War is a necessary evil. The liberals think we should never go to war and the hard right is ready to go to war at the drop of a hat. Smart statesmen use it sometimes. North Korea is going de-nuclear now. We showed we were willing to use force and take a tough line with diplomacy.
Ann: We want to hit Iran, why are we talking about North Korea?
Jerry: North Korea is an example of how we had a nuclear power that is now getting rid of its nukes.
Ann: These are different countries. North Korea is different from Iran. One thing that's different is that President Bush did work with the allies of North Korea. China has an enormous power over North Korea and it stopped shipping anything into the country. That's what works. We already have the allies working with Iran. We're not exactly jumping into this. We've been watching these lunatics run that country for a decade.
Jonas: We saw this week that Wall Street doesn't have a huge reaction to our enemies or states with dangerous weapons. Russia was just showing off their new arms and it didn't really hurt the stock market. It's not as big of a thing compared to war.
Dagen: There's one thing the west has over Iran — gasoline. Iran imports gasoline. That's a power that we could use. The money that we are spending right now in Iraq is huge. I don't think investors would cheer if we would also go into Iran.
Jerry: We need more trade with Iran. Trade is the future of Iran. They have a nutty ruler, but the people there tend to be pro-American. Get as many cell phones, computers, and fax machines in there so those people can have mass amounts.
Jonathan: I don't think the Iranians are going to yearn for that freedom even though they are surrounded by emerging middle classes in India and China. If you listen to what the Iranians say, their goal is to spread "Sri Law" across the world.
Jerry: The Iranians aren't saying that! It's the leader.
Jonathan: He's the one who has the finger on the trigger.
Jerry: So, let's get rid of him.
Jonathan: Absolutely! He's a threat to the United States of America.
Jerry: This is a strong Iranian middle class.
Ann: This is exactly what people's misreading of the Cold War is. People think we won the Cold War when Joan Jett played in East Germany. No, it was when Ronald Reagan had a massive arsenal pointed at the premier. That's what got them to back down because they couldn't keep up with us. There's no question that it was military.
Dagen: Ann, you make a point, you said arsenal pointed at the USSR, not bombing the USSR.
Ann: We were dealing with an evil empire then, we weren't dealing with lunatics. At least you could deter Soviet premiers. You can't deter these people. They are willing to die. The only we can do is stop them from having it because once they have it, they will use it.
Rosie Bashes Barbara: Should "Old" American's Retire?
Rosie O'Donnell bashing Barbara Walters in her new book saying that her old boss is "tired" and that she ought to call it quits. Many companies have a mandatory retirement age, but should older Americans be forced to retire?
Jonathan: It's up to the company. If you own a business, you have the right to fire anybody at any time, even if they are 65. I happen to think Barbara does a pretty good job and I say keep 'em on as long as they are willing to work and do a good job.
Ann: I agree. Companies should do whatever they want. If I were the CEO, I wouldn't really care if someone were old or young. I would just rather fire old liberals. I've noticed they are the ones that hang on: Dan Rather, Walter Cronkite, Justice Stevens, Barbara Walters, etc.
Dagen: There are plenty of conservatives that have lasted well into their '80s.
Ann: It's hard to think of then, though because you don't see that many conservatives on TV.
Dagen: Let's totally get rid of a mandatory retirement age because we need to find money for social security. Let people work as long as they want and raise the age that you can start collecting it. Take a look at Alan Greenspan: he worked until he was 80.
Jerry: I don't understand this "cult of youth" thing. We need more gray heads in business than we have. One thing this recent credit crisis has shown us is that we can't have a world of 40 year-olds running the world's financial system. Risk is a great thing, but there has to be a balance between risk and experience. I live in a part of the country where high taxes have driven the younger people out. Around western Pennsylvania we don't take any risk, but there are some places where it's all risk. There has to be a balance. We need experience and wisdom in business.
Jonas: Ultimately, if people stop watching you on TV because you're too old, it could be a problem. In general, the government should take the opposite tactic and encourage lengthier terms of employment. If we had people working into their 70's, it could be the way to save social security.
Jonathan: Do you have the right to, though? Can a company have a mandatory policy stating that if you are over 60, you are out the door?
Dagen: They have the right today to do that. There are plenty of blue chip companies that have their CEO's step down once they reach a certain age.
Jonas: The CEO of Coca-Cola just said he was going to stick around a little longer and it didn't hurt the stock at all. Personally, unless that job requires a person to be fit and young like a lifeguard, I don't think they should be required to fire someone solely because of age.
Jerry: Just because you have the right to do something, doesn't mean it is right to do it.
Ann: All this talk of retirement, I'd like to retire soon and collect my social security in a few years. Everything I've paid into. Think the government will give me that?
Ann Coulter's Surprising Real Estate Prediction!
You may not have known, but Ann Coulter is a real estate investor. We've seen some tough times in the housing market, but does Ann still like it?
Ann: I've been waiting for this real estate market to burst for 5 years! Bust already! Not immediately, but I would like to buy something in the next year. I would rather buy when prices are low than when they are high. Isn't that a good investing idea?
Dagen: Ann, you are doing exactly the right thing because prices have a lot farther to go. Hovnanian (HOV) is having a huge sale this weekend where it is cutting prices 20 percent or more. This is just the beginning of what we are going to see in price declines. We're starting to see it in former hot areas.
Jerry: The market is spring-loaded right now. We've had a credit crunch for some time now, so people have been applying for mortgages, but not getting them. Therefore, there's a lot of pent-up demand. Once we find the kink in the credit hose and deal with that, which I think we are doing, I think we'll have an economy that is spring-loaded for growth.
Jonathan: Markets usually don't correct 30 percent because they are ready to barge right back up to the all-time high. Getting the kinks out could take a lot longer than a lot of the bottom-fishers are expecting. Ann, I'm curious, you invest in real estate right now or are waiting for a drop like this to put your money to work?
Ann: Yes I do invest, but I want to buy more. Looking at a place like New York, the market went up and up throughout the '80s and then suddenly wham, it was down and was flat. If you're not buying as a speculator and want to buy a house, you never know when it's going to be completely the bottom. I'd rather buy on the way down, than on the way up.
Jonathan: I don't think it'll be a sharp decline & recovery. I see a long period of 8-10 years where prices don't go anywhere. I look at the real estate stocks, everything from the homebuilders like Hovnanian (HOV) to the REITs, and they all look like dead money. Maybe it won't fall another 20-30 percent, but for me it's not my top idea for new money.
Ann: Even if it's 10 years, I wish I had bought a lot of real estate in New York in the early '90s when the market collapsed and was flat for 10 years.
Jonas: I think it's got more than a year, because there are still too many people who call themselves real estate investors. They are like day traders and think if they put $5,000 into a kitchen, it'll automatically be worth $10,000. That mentality has to change before we'll see real deals.
Jerry: Those speculators are going to get hammered and I expect they will get hammered for a long time. That's fine. That's what speculators do. They did very well for a few years and now they will get hit. I'm talking about housing stocks looking forward. I'm worried that if we have a recession in this country, people won't be buying houses. I'm also going to ask Ann to lay off the immigrants because, if we deport 13 million people, that sure isn't going to do a lot for the housing market.
Best Bets: Ann's Top $tocks
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