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; Scott Bleier, HybridInvestors.com president; Tobin Smith, ChangeWave Research editor; Matthew McCall, Penn Financial Group president.
Trading Pit: Wicked Winter Storms: Boost to Economy?
Talk about wicked weather! Snow, ice, and mudslides: Mother Nature hitting us hard, knocking out power, closing roads and shutting airports.
So how can all this weather actually be a good thing for the economy?
Tobin Smith: A lot of people have forgotten that there is this thing called winter! It usually comes once a year, and there's industries built around it! So if we have a normal winter we're going to have actual winter industries do well, which is good for the economy!
Pat Dorsey: You're less likely to leave your home to spend money! The data is clear that when the weather is really nasty outside, retail sales take a hit. It's the holiday season, so people are not going to stay home and not shop. But a really nasty winter will have an effect.
Gary B. Smith: The one industry that could be helped is the clothing industry. The stores have had winter coats in the stores for a while but we had a real mild fall so people weren't buying them. Other than that there is no correlation whatsoever between weather and the economy!
Scott Bleier: The only chill that this economy and markets care about is the chill of the credit markets. Weather is always used as an excuse for a company's poor performance. Weather is the least of our economies trouble…we have a recession coming!
Matthew McCall: Productivity goes down with winter weather. Oil prices go higher, and consumers are sitting home during the holiday season not going shopping!
$trip Club Tax to Help Pay for Health Care?
Strip clubs paying for health care! Starting January 1, Texas gentlemen clubs will be slapped with a special tax, part of which will help pay for medical care for the uninsured!
Good plan or bad idea?
Tobin Smith: This is stupid and insane! Why don't we just go and tax little league because kids hurt their arms and legs when they play baseball!
Matthew McCall: Why not?! If you have the disposable income to go throw singles around inside a strip club, why not another five dollars at the door to help people!
Gary B. Smith: It's a classic case of the government deciding how you should or not spend your money. Why is it the governments place to decide it should be a strip club?
Scott Bleier: You can't charge a sin tax to this because it's not a sin! Strip clubs don't kill people like tobacco does.
Ask the Chartman
Led Zeppelin rockers not the only aging superstars on a comeback! The once high-flying stocks our market-stars say are ready to top the charts again!
Tobin Smith: MuniMae (MMA )
Matthew McCall: DryShips (DRYS )
Pat Dorsey: Bed Bath & Beyond (BBBY )
Scott Bleier: RealNetworks (RNWK )
Tobin's prediction: Baseball's 'roid rage great for Cepheid (CPHD )! Up 50 percent by Summer Olympics
Gary B's prediction: Writers' strike continues; Internet booms! Cisco (CSCO ) up 50 percent in 12 months
Pat's prediction: Capitalize on CapitalSource (CSE ); up 30 percent by the end of 2008
Scott's prediction: Get bear market immunity. Buy PowerShares Dynamic Healthcare (PTH ); up 30 percent next year
Matt's prediction: A cash shower with water! Buy PowerShares Global Water (PIO )
On Saturday, December 15, 2007, Neil Cavuto was joined by Ben Stein, "The Real Stars" author; Charles Payne, wstreet.com; Tracy Byrnes, FOX Business Network; Adam Lashinsky, Fortune Magazine; and John "Bradshaw" Layfield, Northeast Securities.
Bottom Line: Hillary Drops in Polls: Will Bill Rescue Her or the GOP?
Neil Cavuto: A new poll showing Sen. Hillary Clinton losing the lead in Iowa and New Hampshire. Now, her husband wants to come to the rescue. But, someone here says that would actually help keep a Republican in the White House. Who's right?
John "Bradshaw" Layfield: I think it helps the GOP. I think this primary race between Clinton and Obama is basically about who's supporting them. You see a surge when Oprah steps out with Obama. You see a surge whenever Bill politics for Hillary. The Democrats would love to have Bill Clinton back in the White House. He's going to get her through this primary, but sooner or later she's going to have to step up. And when she does, people are going to realize she's not Bill Clinton and that's going to help the GOP significantly.
Tracy Byrnes: I think John's right. I think Bill brings the crowds, but Hillary has to step up. Hillary eventually has to show her true colors. I do think this Oprah/Obama thing has been scaring them. Because of that, I think Bill's going to be out all over the place, but he can't get his wife in the White House.
Neil Cavuto: Well, that's assuming Oprah gets Obama in the White House…
Tracy Byrnes: She did a pretty good job of helping him win Iowa recently.
Neil Cavuto: It's just a poll.
Tracy Byrnes: Very true.
Neil Cavuto: Adam, what do you make of that?
Adam Lashinsky: I think there's going to be hiccups along the way. Bill may say some goofy things that may turn people off, but…
Neil Cavuto: That's the story of my show!
Adam Lashinsky: Bill Clinton will be good for Hillary in the primaries. He will be good for her in the general. Bill's going to do whatever it takes to help his wife win the presidency, and that will include giving her good advice, making appearances, or even pulling back if he thinks that's the best thing to do. The last point I want to make is Al Gore made the mistake in 2000 of not utilizing Bill Clinton. Hillary Clinton will not make that same mistake.
Neil Cavuto: Charles Payne, what do you make of that?
Charles Payne: I like when Adam said Bill would do anything. I think that's part of the problem! These guys will play dirty pool. I think the more we see Bill Clinton, the more we're going to be reminded of the moral decay in the White House and even in the country. The man at the top really set the tone. It was like Prince's song "Party Like It's 1999." There was no accountability. Everyone was just going to get rich and live off the land. Really, it was like a big party. A lot of people remember Bill Clinton for the good times, but a lot of people also remember that long, multi-year hangover after he was gone.
Neil Cavuto: Ben Stein, do more people remember Bill Clinton for before the hangover or after?
Ben Stein: Well, I'm not sure. But, it's kind of comical to suggest that the greed on Wall Street was worse in 1998-1999 than it is now. It's totally out of control now, so I don't see how it could have been much worse then. I guess there were parts in the Silicon Valley or venture capitalists world where it was worse, but it couldn't have been much worse on Wall Street than it is now. I think Bill Clinton is going to do something very useful for Hillary Clinton. He will campaign to her left. He will take the extreme, left-wing, bitter, nasty, slimy, anti-Bush position which will allow Mrs. Clinton to seem more statesmanlike and allow her to campaign from the center so that if she wins the nomination, she can continue to campaign from the center without being on the record as making extreme left-wing proposals. That's a very, very strong and very smart move by the Clintons.
Neil Cavuto: I've talked to a lot of Republican operatives who say they would love Hillary Clinton to get the nomination so they could annihilate her. I can remember back to 1980, when the Carter folks were hoping this Ronald Reagan fellow would get the nomination because he was so easy to annihilate. We all know how that worked out. I'm not sure I buy the thesis.
John "Bradshaw" Layfield: I think the thesis works because charisma started and ended with Ronald Reagan. You could give the New York Knicks Phil Jackson and he's still not going to win. The problem is Bill Clinton is backing a horse… and no offense to horses…
Neil Cavuto: Man oh man! We did not say that Senator!
John "Bradshaw" Layfield: I'm from Texas. I know a lot of horses!
John "Bradshaw" Layfield: Look, Bill is a terrific politician. He's got money and all kinds of charisma. Ben is right: You use your campaign to go further left so you can correct it and appear to be more centrist. Sooner or later Hillary Clinton's going to have to get up there, but she's just not that likeable as a person.
Adam Lashinsky: For what it's worth, I agree with John that the thesis is right. If I remember my history correctly, Ronald Reagan was always likeable. There were concerns about how smart he was. Hillary Clinton has high negatives. She's not seen as being likeable. As far as political strategizing goes, I think the Republican operatives are correct to want her as an opponent.
Charles Payne: Another thing too: With Obama, you have the anti-politician factor. There are a whole lot of people in this country who never vote. That's where the Oprah Winfreys are important because she can bring those people to the polls.
Neil Cavuto: Tracy, at the end of the week there were a couple of interesting stories on some political websites that said Hillary was about to implode. What's interesting here is no one's voted yet. Everything's based on polls. Does Bill Clinton help Hillary?
Tracy Byrnes: You know, he could… but he could also be political baggage. He's basically come out and said, "Take everything I say with a grain of salt." He's waffling. We've caught him waffling before. I think Hillary has a very fine line to walk with her husband. It's interesting when we talk about ethics. Bill Clinton's become somewhat of a celebrity, but when Rudy Giuliani wears a dress… it's taboo. Why the double standard?
Neil Cavuto: Ben Stein, in the grand scheme of things, does it matter who is backing whom? When Frank Sinatra was backing John Kennedy in 1960… did that really turn any votes?
Ben Stein: Well, what really helped John F Kennedy was that the mafia was backing John F Kennedy… but that's a different story. I don't know. I think Clinton is a very well-like guy among certain people. I don't know why. It's a mystery to me. He doesn't seem very likeable. But, I don't understand it, Neil. I don't understand why people like Oprah. I don't understand why people like Barack Obama. I don't understand why people like Hillary Clinton. I don't understand any of it. It's all a mystery to me.
Head to Head: Merry Christmas v$ Happy Holidays: Which Is Better for the Economy?
Neil Cavuto: Would you believe "Merry Christmas" is better for our economy than "Happy Holidays"? Well, a new study says shoppers spend more money at stores decked out with Christmas decorations. But, what does Ben Stein and our gang think? It's time to go "Head to Head."
Neil Cavuto: Ben Stein, I believe you have spoken more eloquently on this particular subject than anyone I know. The reason why I know that's the case? Scores of Christian churches have re-run your comments in their weekly bulletins. I think that says something. I'm not sure that's ever happened before. Remind us your position on the topic.
Ben Stein: Well, it's the birth of Christ that's being celebrated now. It's not a miscellaneous, random holiday. It's the birth of the Prince of Peace. It's an incredibly momentous event in human history. It's the beginning of the Christian era. The event is much bigger than Hanukah; it's much bigger than Kwanzaa. It's a gigantic event! To tell Christians they cannot say "Merry Christmas" to welcome the birth of their Savior, it's just insane dictatorship. It's pushing them around. People don't like to be pushed around, Neil. Jews don't like to be pushed around. Atheists don't like to be pushed around. And Christians don't like to be pushed around. This country has been pushing around Christians for so many years, telling them they can't say "Merry Christmas," telling them they can't put up Christmas displays. If I were Christian, I think I would be absolutely furious about it. Why can't people celebrate the birth of their Savior?? This is a free country with rights of free speech. It's just pure, nasty, dictatorship.
Neil Cavuto: So do you, as a Jew, feel offended when someone innocently comes up to you and wishes you a "Merry Christmas"?
Ben Stein: Not in the slightest! Not only am I a Jew, all my ancestors are Jewish. Except for my wife, there are no Gentiles in my family…
Ben Stein: I get offended when people don't say Merry Christmas to me! I say Merry Christmas to people. That's what this season is! It's the Christmas season. I'm not the slightest bit offended. And, I am very, very thankful that I live in a country where the predominant religion is Christianity, a religion of peace and tolerance. I hate the idea that we're trying to suppress that. It just takes away the most basic principle that this is a nation under God. I hate the fact we're trying to take that away from people.
Neil Cavuto: Well, by the way Ben, my pastor wants to make you a Catholic.
Neil Cavuto: Charles, what do you make of the study? It basically says that people feel so strongly on this subject, that they will actually seek out stores that are not afraid to say the c-word: Christmas.
Charles Payne: What this really is… is part of a politically correct phenomenon. I look at it as going beyond Christmas. I think it's part of a declining education standard, our declining appreciation of older people, the increasing use of drugs. I just can't say it as eloquently as Ben, but I see it as really breaking the moral compass of this country and a lot of folks are fighting back against that. There's just so much political correctness we can take from Hollywood and New York.
Neil Cavuto: I don't mean to blow smoke Ben's way, but his comments are all over the Internet this time of year. Everyone steps back when they read it. John, what do you make of this fuss?
John "Bradshaw" Layfield: Mr. Stein and Charles are right: People like people with a backbone.
Neil Cavuto: He's Mr. Stein. Charles is just Charles… Chuck… That dude.
John "Bradshaw" Layfield: People don't care if you're Irish on St Paddy's Day… they'll still tell you "Happy St. Paddy's Day!" People don't mind you being proud of your heritage. Look. This country is full of hypocrisy. If we can celebrate a holiday that represents us coming here, raping a bunch of women, taking land, putting people on reservations, and building a nation with an enslaved race… all while calling it Thanksgiving, we can celebrate the birth of Christ.
Neil Cavuto: Ok. I knew it was just a matter of time…
Tracy Byrnes: I'm a devout Catholic. You trip over the statues in my house. I am not offended when someone says "Happy Holidays." I actually respect the fact that there are other holidays out there that just happen to all be around the same time.
Adam Lashinsky: I think we're blowing this out of proportion. Yes, there is political correctness, but there's also people just trying to be inclusive. Ben is right. Christmas is far more important than a holiday like Hanukah. But, Christmas has become a commercial holiday. People just want to make as much money as possible.
Ben Stein: But that's not what this holiday is supposed to be about. That's a disgrace, too.
Adam Lashinsky: I agree.
Exclusive Interview With Rupert Murdoch
Neil Cavuto: Keep spending and investing! That's what one of the brightest minds in business says we need to do to stay out of a recession. That man is Rupert Murdoch and he just happens to be my boss… and he just happened to officially get the Dow Jones company this week. I asked him about that deal and if he's worried about our economy on my daily show, "Your World." His answer may surprise you…
Taped Interview from Thursday (12/13/2007):
Neil Cavuto: "The Journal" and "Barron's," Dow Jones in general, have been running all these surveys from economists and others who are predicting a slowdown, at the very least, a healthy plurality even a recession, even with the Fed's recent cuts. Are you worried?
Rupert Murdoch: Oh, yes. I think we are in for a recession, probably. How bad it will be, I don't know. But I think there's a lot more bad news to come out of...
Neil Cavuto: Bad news where, on the mortgage?
Rupert Murdoch: European banks, insurance companies, pension funds. These things always start with housing booms. And it takes some time, a year or two, for an economy to come right through it, probably five or six years for the real estate market to come through it.
Neil Cavuto: Five or six years?
Rupert Murdoch: That has sort of been the history of these things in the ‘60s and the ‘80s.
Neil Cavuto: So, that would mean at least another three years of this.
Rupert Murdoch: Well, yes. I think, you know, in terms of banks cleaning up their balance sheets and getting back into lending and so on, I think that's only about a year or so. The problem at the moment is, there is plenty of money everywhere, but the banks are frightened to lend it. And, therefore, it is harder for small-businessmen to get started. And that's what we have to watch - that and the price of money. The banks are being so sort of super careful. They have had a big fright.
Neil Cavuto: Well, as have prospective borrowers, right? Even those who would normally qualify relatively easily, they are backing off, too.
Rupert Murdoch: Well, I don't know. We just borrowed some money the other day. We're an investment-grade company. And it was done on the telephone for $1 billion dollars. It was no trouble.
Neil Cavuto: Yes, but I am not talking about borrowers like you, Mr. Murdoch. I am talking about average borrowers who are just sort of saying, "We might in fact qualify, but we don't know if we want to. We think this whole environment is sort of like a falling knife."
Rupert Murdoch: If there's a lack of business confidence, that's a problem.
Neil Cavuto: Right.
Rupert Murdoch: But I don't think we are too close to that yet. People talk. I was seeing the debates today, about jobs going overseas and so on. I thought disgraceful things. There is no one in America who wants a job who can't get one. We have got a state of very near full employment here. The country is doing pretty well.
Neil Cavuto: All right. Now, also, in that debate was this view you have to rectify the boom for the very wealthy guys by raising taxes on them. And to the men and one woman in that debate, they still want to do that, raise taxes on the upper income. What do you make of that?
Rupert Murdoch: Well, I understand it. I don't agree with it. I think that the history of all tax raises has been to slow economies, to slow enterprise. The fact we have got through the last eight years so well and come out of the slump that President Bush inherited from the end of the Clinton years is due to his big tax cuts. And, sure, we had deficits for a while, but you watch the way business has improved, and now the deficit is down to less than 1 percent of GDP. We are fine. I think what this country needs today is another tax cut, rather than lower interest rates. We may have to have higher interest rates for inflation. But the main thing is to get people spending and to get people investing.
More for Your Money: The Be$t Funds!
Neil Cavuto: As promised, the four best funds for 2008 so you can get "More for Your Money."
Charles Payne: Fidelity Select Energy (FSENX )
Adam Lashinsky: Alpine Dynamic Dividend Fund (ADVDX)
*Adam owns shares of this mutual fund.
Ben Stein: ING Partners Fidelity VIP Contrafund Adv (VPCAX)
*Ben owns shares of this mutual fund.
John "Bradshaw" Layfield: DIAMONDS Trust, Series 1 (DIA )
Flipside: Best Way to $ave Housing: Cut Taxes!
Elizabeth MacDonald, FOX Business Network: Absolutely we should cut taxes. It would make people feel richer. There is a big psychological impact. We have a record number of foreclosures right now. A tax cut would stimulate the economy and drive GDP. It would bring liquidity to the job market and cause more hiring by small businesses.
Quentin Hardy, Silicon Valley bureau chief: The fact is, when you inflate an overshot market, that's called inflation. Bumping up prices in an overshot market is wrong. And cutting taxes does two things that are a problem here. One, it increases the deficit. Two, the taxes would go to the rich and the problem with subprime is in the lower end. Tax cuts wouldn't show up enough in their paychecks to make them run out and buy houses.
Rich Karlgaard, publisher: Tax cuts are always good for the economy, good for the supply side and good for consumers. This housing slump is going to cause our economy to go down the tubes and we need to avoid a recession. Tax cuts would be a good way to do this.
Neil Weinberg, senior editor: Saying that a tax cut is the right market force is like saying you need stimulates like Major League Baseball does. We don't need a tax cut right now. What we need are bankruptcies. We need people getting foreclosed on and banks going out of business. Creative destruction, that's what we need.
Victoria Barret, associate editor: There has to be a cleaning up in the housing market. People bought houses for more than they were worth. But a tax cut right now would be perfect right to inject stimulus into the economy when this housing crisis threatens overall economic growth. It could take us into a recession. A tax cut would give a nice boost to businesses and consumers.
Mike Ozanian, national editor: Tax cuts are always great for the economy. But this housing problem occurred while the economy was good. This isn't a problem of a bad economy it's a problem of insolvency. Banks have far too much debt and paper on their books that is worth far less than the value of what they're holding. No tax cut is going to help that.
In Focus: America's "Most Liberal Mayor" Backs Clinton: Good for GOP and Economy?
Rich Karlgaard: Hillary's poll numbers are going down. Previously she was able to play the centrist. Now that Obama is catching her she's got to appeal to her left base. Remember this about presidential elections, it's the Electoral College. So ask yourself if her affiliation with Major Gavin Newsom is going to help in Ohio, Missouri or Pennsylvania?
Quentin Hardy: What Hillary has to do is lock in the left. Mayor Newsom is good for that. Most people in Missouri or Iowa couldn't tell you who Gavin Newsom is. It won't matter at all.
Victoria Barret: Gavin Newsom became a national figure when he made gay marriage his cause. That's a very polarizing move and I think that he can be very polarizing in a negative way for Hillary Clinton because nationally I don't think that gay marriage is an issue that we can all agree on yet. I think she should stick to the centrist route if she wants to get the nomination.
Josh Lipton, Forbes.com markets reporter: I think this is a smart move by Hillary. She is trying to play to the left wing of her party which may have some concerns considering her votes. This is a way for her to overcome these concerns by teaming up with Gavin Newsom. This helps her out.
John Rutledge, Forbes contributor: Newsom hurts Hillary but I think the Republicans need more than the San Francisco mayor to help out here. I think that there are worries that the number of Republicans leaving Congress indicate that they don't believe that they're going to win. The best thing going for the Republicans now is that the housing issues will be gone by November and we'll be dealing with tax issues. Taxes are what people vote on.
Lea Goldman, senior editor: I think this event has no effect for the right or the left. On the right, the folks that are all worked up over Newsom are the same folks that wouldn't be voting for Hillary anyways. On the left they have bigger fish to fry. They want resolutions on healthcare and Iraq. They don't give a damn about Newsom.
Top Colleges Upping Aid for Some: Why Not Lower Tuition for All?
Lea Goldman: I think that they should change the color at Harvard from crimson to green because this is one greedy school. Harvard is sitting on top of a $35 billion endowment. The cost of this new program amounts to about $30 million a year. If that doesn't show greed I don't know what does. Harvard should be dispersing some of this endowment. Anything else would be gouging!
John Rutledge: How would you feel if you went to the corner market and asked for the price of a gallon of milk and the store owner asked, "how much do you make?" This is price discrimination! But price discrimination is very profitable. Universities do it and so do airlines. You squeeze as much money as you can out of every customer. The problem isn't just Harvard here. We need free universities for people who can't afford to go to any of these schools.
Quentin Hardy: The problem with this country is that poorer people can't afford to go to college and they have to go straight to work. Colleges are more like a car dealership. The first price is sort of what you pay but then you negotiate. I think that's fine. The more models you have around education the better we are.
Neil Weinberg: We can't give away free tuition to everyone. Let's face it, Harvard is the upper class. Let poor people in there and pay their tuition and let the rich carry their own weight.
Elizabeth MacDonald: Everyone is missing the point. Colleges like Harvard get to invest their money tax-free. They're living off the taxpayer's nickel. Government gives financial aid through scholarships through Harvard. So Harvard gets to keep its tuition costs high. They're sticking it to parents across the country. Check this out, last year the return on Harvard's endowment was $6 billion! If they took a fifth of that they could afford tuition for all of their undergrads for 4 years!
Informer: Party Stocks
Mike Ozanian: Red Robin Gourmet (RRGB)
Josh Lipton: Johnson & Johnson (JNJ)
Lea Goldman: Church & Dwight (CHD)
Neil Weinberg: Target (TGT)
Our Cashin' In crew this week: Wayne Rogers, Wayne Rogers & Co; Jonathan Hoenig, CapitalistPig Asset Management; Jonas Max Ferris, MaxFunds.com; Gary Kaltbaum; Kaltbaum & Associates; Stephanie Auwerter, SmartMoney.com; and Chip Cummings, Northwind Finanacial and co-author of "Mortgage Myths."
Baseball's Steroid Scandal: Proof Unions Are Bad For Biz?
A big strike out for major league baseball!
The nation's multi-billion dollar pastime hit with a costly steroid scandal, with some of the blame coming down on the players union for fighting drug testing. Is this proof that unions are bad for business?
Gary K: Unions are bad in some businesses. In this one, it is definitely complicit. You can't just throw it all at the union because it's everyone; from the players to the mangers and the owners. It's all of baseball. They watched it all go on, but did nothing about it. They watched Barry Bonds go from a Paris Hilton figure to Hulk Hogan the next year. Everyone is all guilty at this point in time. There's blame all around.
Wayne: I'm a part owner of the Oakland A's. The thing with the steroid scandal is that nobody has proven it. These are all allegations, and we have some admissions. To blame the union is out of line. Let me ask you something…no one goes around testing rock bands or movie actors to see if they are drug free. The league has put in a very strong program and Bud Selig has done a great job.
Jonathan: It is part of a rock guy's image to use drugs, but not if you are an MLB player. The management understands and knows that a drug culture is bad for baseball. Unions aren't always bad, but they do have a history of ruining almost every industry in which they have played a part. Examples include automobile manufacturers, the airline industry and (pretty soon) entertainment. The unions would much rather bring down the ship than try and keep it afloat.
Stephanie: This union, in particular, is very strong. It's different than a lot of other unions in that you have such a specific pool of membership with very unique skills. You also have an employer that has a lot of money. This is a union that has a lot of sway.
Jonas: You can blame the union for one thing in baseball: shifting profits from owners to players. That's what has been accomplished in the last decades of baseball. Use of steroids didn't stop and the owners stopped the testing because they were the ones worried about getting busted. There's a dilemma in that the business benefits if everyone stays clean, but these individual players can become make more money and become even more famous by cheating. It would require a higher authority to stop cheaters. It might ruin baseball in general.
Gary K: Baseball is not going to be ruined. 2008 will be a big year for baseball again. The sport has gone through troubles in the past and it came back. The same will happen with this. This is all about greed.
Wayne: The owners are already doing something. They are cooperating fully with this investigation. They paid millions for the investigation. They want clean baseball. Everybody wants it clean.
Jonathan: The decision as to what types of drugs or steroids should or should not be allowed lies with the team owners. Everyone has a right to do whatever they want with their body, but when you are playing in someone else's league, you have to play by their rules.
New Passenger Bill of Rights: A Traveler's Dream or Nightmare?
New York's new passenger bill of rights is ready to take off January 1st. It forces airlines to take care of travelers if their planes are delayed over 3 hours. Is this a dream or a nightmare?
Jonathan: We already have a bill of rights in the Constitution. Passengers are passengers voluntarily. You are stuck on the tarmac because of the regulation that already plagues this industry. This bill of rights is a fancy way of saying more regulation. That's what makes airlines and travel so terrible.
Gary K: Jonathan, I don't know what the heck you are talking about! If you are on the tarmac for a few hours and you have kids who need diapers and people are passing out because they don't have water. How does that make it bad to take care of your customers?
Stephanie: I agree with Gary. If it takes legislation to get airlines to get you food and water if you are sitting on the tarmac for three hours, sign me up. It's a good plan. Nothing else is working right now.
Jonas: It wouldn't take legislation if people just switched airlines from one you had a problem with to another one. The real problem is that tickets are so cheap. It's a drive to the bottom. The service is bad and airports are overcrowded. Anything that raises the cost to the consumer might help as it means less people will fly and less people at the airport.
Jonathan: Why would you want that, Jonas? How about more airports? How about more pilots and planes? The government regulates every element of this industry. Let's fix the problem, not pass out water bottles.
Wayne: All the airlines are not bad. In the case of the JetBlue problem that started all of this, the company turned around and took care of it themselves. It was worried about customers leaving them and made a decision take care of it and gain their customers trust back. The airlines are not interested in going out of business. They will take care of it.
Biggest Housing Group Here In U.S. Predicts Rebound Is Here!
The National Association of Realtors now predicting home sales and prices will increase next year. Are they right?
Chip: Yes! I like where the numbers are going. Everything is starting to point in the right direction and not just from the National Association of Realtors. We also are seeing good things from existing homes sales, pending home sales, construction, and mortgage applications are up. We're starting to see sunshine.
Wayne: You must be looking at a different chart that I am. I don't see a housing start that is going up. We still have a mortgage crisis and it has gotten worse. Plus, it's getting into the banking system. The banks don't even know where the bottom is. No one knows. Housing is very local. In New York is doing very well, but there are disasters in Las Vegas, San Diego and south Florida.
Chip: I agree that there are some problem markets, but there are also some bright spots. Take a look at Seattle, Charlotte, and New York City. In the 25 years that I've been doing this, there's never been a better time to be a first time homebuyer. There's good inventory out there and the money is starting to flow.
Gary K: I would rather listen to Michael Vick teach me how to train dogs than listen to the realtors association on where housing is going. The numbers are not good: 12 months of inventory out there, prices are still coming down, you can't get a mortgage, and mortgage lenders are raising jumbo loans. There is nothing good going on. The consumer is pulling back.
Best Bets: Weatherproof $tocks
Jonathan: Konami (KNM ) (Friday's Close: $32.72)
Gary K: Chesapeake Energy (CHK ) (Friday's Close: $38.21)
Wayne: eBay (EBAY ) (Friday's Close: $32.70)
Jonas: Cooper Tire & Rubber (CTB ) (Friday's Close: $38.21)