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 This past week's Bulls & Bears: Gary B. Smith, Exemplar Capital; Tobin Smith, ChangeWave Research; Pat Dorsey, Morningstar.com; Matt McCall, Penn West Financial; Peter Schiff, author "Crash Proof"; Marc Lamont Hill, Ph.D., Temple University
Trading Pit: Worst June for Dow Since 1932: Time to Profit From Panic?
Gary B. Smith: I'm a bull. Stocks will rebound just like they did in March. My rationale? One, oil has gone parabolic and is going to burst. Two, the bones of the economy are good: GDP shows that we're not in a recession and unemployment rate is low.
Peter Schiff: I don' think there is enough panic out there. You should sell –we are in a bear market. The market has gone a lot lower, not only in nominal terms, but in real terms. The government says the economy grew 1 percent. And oil is not a bubble; it's probably going to go up to $150/barrel. It has a long way to go.
Matt McCall: We're almost to the bottom but we're going to rebound. I agree with Gary.
Tobin Smith: What we haven't talked about is inflation. I'm much more concerned about inflation in Asia. The rest of the world is suffering too. 50 percent of the world now has inflation of more than 10 percent. We've got the second wave of the recession. We've had a bear market in almost every sector of the market and everything else is catching up. There's going to be a bounce.
Pat Dorsey: Don't sell your long term investments –- 401(k) funds, kids' college funds, retirement funds. In terms of buying stocks, lower prices today mean higher returns over the long run. Right now buying big multinational companies makes a lot of sense. We could be looking at a recession, but stocks tend to anticipate things.
Stock X-Change: $econd Half Winner$!
Gary's Pick: Goldman Sachs (GS )
Pat's Pick: Lowe's (LOW )
Tobin's Pick: Ultra Petroleum (UPL )
Matt's Pick: Credicorp (CAP )
Peter's Pick: Anglogold Ashanti (AU )
How Congress Can Help Bring Down Gas Prices!
The Senate and House are now on an extended July 4th vacation after failing to get anything done to help lower gas prices. Are we better served by Congress being on vacation?
Gary B: It's great that Congress is going on vacation! They don't understand economics or want to pander to their constituency. Whatever they do, they can't fix gas prices, especially with ideas like a windfall profit tax for the oil companies.
Marc Lamont Hill: Congress was on the verge of something big, and they went away! Congress needs to help with rising gas prices. A windfall tax would help those at the lower end of income.
Gary B: Walk all over high gas! "TBL " up 30 percent by end of '08
Tobin: Make money as financials keep falling! "SKF " up another 30 percent
Matt: Don't be scared of financials! "JPM " up 25 percent in 6 months
Pat: Make your own money legacy! "LGCY " leaps 50 percent in 2 years
Peter: The dollar is dead! Stay alive w/ Merc Asian Currency (MEAFX )
On Saturday, June 28th, 2008, Alexis Glick was joined by Ben Stein, author, "How to Ruin the United States of America"; Charles Payne, wstreet.com; Dagen McDowell, FOX Business Network; Adam Lashinsky, Fortune Magazine; and Eric Bolling, FOX Business Network.
Bottom Line: OPEC Blaming U.S. for High Gas Prices, But Is OPEC to Blame?
Alexis Glick: This week OPEC says ‘no' to pumping out more oil to push down gas prices. OPEC blaming America for wasting fuel. But, is OPEC the waste? Let's get "The Bottom Line."
Eric Bolling: September 1960, OPEC formed to unify petroleum prices in order to secure fair and stable oil prices. That is important because on the way down, for most of the 1990s, OPEC dropped production because prices were going down. Now, we need them to produce: to put as much oil on the market as they can. Saudi Arabia has said they could put up to two or three million more barrels a day on the market. Hey guys! Let's do it. We need you to be fair.
Alexis Glick: Who is really to blame for high gas prices? Is it OPEC or the US?
Dagen McDowell: We need to look in the mirror. We, in this nation, still consume one out of every four barrels of oil that are produced in the world. Our gasoline, even at $4 a gallon nationwide, is much cheaper than other developed nations. It is $8 or $9 in Europe. We need to step back. We are seeing demand drop. We had the chance years and years ago when oil was cheap to fix this addiction, and we didn't do it and now we are suffering.
Alexis Glick: Ben, do you want to get in there?
Ben Stein: The story is told by the fact that oil is up like 50 percent in dollars in the last six months. It is only up about 13 percent in Euros. It is disastrous U.S. fiscal policy that has led to a colossal fall in the dollar. It is not OPEC's fault. And they are completely right; it is our fault. If we had a president and Congress who would balance the budget, oil would fall sharply.
Charles Payne: America is the richest country in the world, and there's no doubt we forgot about conservation. Almost every car had one driver, including me. So -- guilty as charged in that regard. There are a lot of culprits in this. It is not just one entity. And OPEC is milking it for all its worth.
Ben Stein: They should do it. It is their one resource - oil.
Charles Payne: But you don't want to kill the goose that laid the golden egg.
Ben Stein: This is the gift that nature has given them and they should maximize the profit. We should maximize our good sense by balancing the budget. When are we going to learn?
Alexis Glick: What do you think, Adam?
Adam Lashinsky: Let's put a couple of things in perspective. Actually, OPEC's production and the consumption in the United States are fairly constant. That is not the news here. We are gluttonists, sure. As a matter of fact, our consumption is fairly constant. It has only started to pull back a little bit with extremely high prices and the weak economy. The change or difference is the demand for oil from emerging countries like China and India. That has absolutely nothing to do with what we do and has even less to do, Eric, with how much the Saudis in particular are willing to produce.
Eric Bolling: They call themselves the swing producer. But in times when prices were going down, they were going to swing out of production, and in times of less, they ramp up production. We need to conserve. But we have an emergency and a crisis right now. The only short-term solution is by OPEC putting in more oil.
Alexis Glick: Dagen, what about the Fed? What about the U.S. dollar? Are we to play for our policies?
Dagen McDowell: It is the one-two punch of our energy policy and our fiscal policy. I love Ben Stein, but I love him even more today because I am in complete agreement on that. If the dollar wasn't so weak, we wouldn't be seeing $140.
Eric Bolling: A big if.
Charles Payne: Let me bring up something else about America. America, which beat communism, is the policeman of the world. If we didn't have the world in the shape it is now because of all the blood that we spilled, all the money that we have spent, India and China wouldn't be prospering. If you want to blame America, blame America for being the greatest country in the world for spreading capitalism around the world.
Ben Stein: Amen, Charles. American military men and women are the lights of the world. But we have to balance the budget. If we did that, oil would fall in dollars.
Adam Lashinsky: Let me throw out a question here to Eric. What do you think the Saudi motivation is? Do you think they are there enjoying the high prices?
Eric Bolling: Yes! Yes! It costs them $1.50 to bring this out of the sand right now. They could drop oil prices tomorrow if they pumped 12 million or 13 million like they say they can and they would still have the golden goose.
Eric Bolling: And they would make even more money. So, it would be a huge win for them. Why are they dragging their feet and would it make a huge difference?
Alexis Glick: How much would prices go down?
Eric Bolling: Wait, let me ask you Adam. Saddam Hussein was accused of driving up the prices prior to a war. Maybe they are anticipating some sort of military action in the Middle East and they want it to be $135 a barrel?
Adam Lashinsky: And, in fact, they blame our threats to Iran and maybe it is warranted. My point is they have less control and we have less control of global prices than we think.
Alexis Glick: Let's talk about the pensions and the mutual fund getting in on this trade. Some people deem them as speculators. Where do they stand in forcing this price higher? If you look year-to-date, we are up 46 percent. Some say there is some window dressing going on here as we go into the second quarter.
Charles Payne: There's no doubt. When the market is weak and going down, people buy oil. Oil is driving the price of the dollar, not vise versa. To say mutual funds don't have a right to invest or pension funds don't have a right to invest is nuts. Pension funds: you saw how much money they lost on the internet people. They lost billions when the internet collapsed. They might lose billions if oil collapses.
Dagen McDowell: This is another instance though, and I have said it, that we need to all look in the mirror. If you are investing your money in exchange traded funds, ask yourself if you are part of the problem or not.
Head to Head: Obama Says Fix Housing to Fix Economy; Is He Right?
Soundbite from Barack Obama: I think a good place to start is the housing market. If we can get a bill that is working its way through Congress passed that will get borrowers and lenders together to try to keep people in their homes and curb foreclosures, at least solidify housing prices, that will go a long way to restoring confidence, not only in the credit markets, but consumer confidence.
Alexis Glick: Senator Barack Obama telling me we need to fix the housing market. It's time to go head-to-head! Ben Stein, what do you think it is.
Ben Stein: I think it is a noble ambition, but the federal government cannot turn a problem around this size. Real estate markets take a long time to move. A down cycle is usually six or seven years. We have a lot more to run in this one. And we have to let it work itself out. People who were defrauded should be able to get redress.
Alexis Glick: Eric, you disagree?
Eric Bolling: I think he's right when everything will get better when the housing market gets fixed, but I agree with Ben that the only way to fix it is to let it work its way out. Real estate is down 16 percent. The stock market is approaching a 20 percent bear market. Money is flowing out and into the oil market. The market has to fix itself. Not by throwing $300 billion at home owners. That's not going to help
Charles Payne: I think housing is part of the puzzle, but I think the credit crunch is more of a key. The feds have to open the spigots. There is just no money flowing to the system. The irony about what Barack Obama had to say is the democrats want to add more regulations. It is going to be harder for banks to lend money. He is saying housing is the solution. But what they are doing is going to make it harder.
Dagen McDowell: The root of the credit crisis is in our housing market. Therefore, you need to get stability in housing before you can get a loosening of credit, before you are going to have a recovery.
Charles Payne: A lot of banks are sitting on cash.
Ben Stein: Dagen, how would they do that?
Dagen McDowell: You need to see home prices stabilize. It is going to take time. I totally agree with you on that.
Adam Lashinsky: Look, the key word the senator used was solidify. That is the best we can hope for here. The bottom of the rungs of the problem, if the government can step in and help some people to solidify their situation: that is fine. The question is: is that going to turnaround the housing market and the stock market, and I think we are in agreement that the answer is absolutely not. Number one, it is not going to be able to turnaround quickly. And number two, we are not going to see housing prices go back to the level where they were just two years ago for quite some time, programs the six or seven years that Ben talked about. So don't look for a quick fix here. At best let's hope that things stop getting worse.
Alexis Glick: Eric, let me ask you this. There are a lot of adjustable rate mortgages that are due to reset. A record number in August. The principle of housing turning first though before we see the market turn, is that what we need to see in order to get the market going?
Eric Bolling: Absolutely, Alexis. Nothing can happen until people start to feel better about their home price. Think about this for a second. On the way up, ARMs were adjusting to higher rates. But what home owners were doing, I will sell the house and pay off that loan I shouldn't have made. They paid them off and moved on. On the way down, you can't do that. When you sell the home at a lower price, you don't have the money to pay off the loan. This evil disease has to work through, and Ben is right. It could take five to seven years.
Alexis Glick: We should say that ARMs are Adjustable Rate Mortgages. Ben, go ahead.
Ben Stein: With all due respect, there's no evidence whatsoever that we need a housing turnaround to get a stock market turnaround. There have been money stock market turnarounds when the housing market has did not in the dole drums. One thing is not really connected to the other.
Alexis Glick: It's interesting Ben, I have read it is kind of the other way around, which is we have to turn the stock market around, and a year later we will start to see housing recover because your investments and confidence will start to recover.
Ben Stein: We can't turn it around, but Mr. Bernanke could help. I would like to see him do something. I'd like to see him do something. Maybe he is on vacation.
Dagen McDowell: Wait. Ben, to your point, the one thing that can turn all this around is finally that prices bottom. Maybe nationwide we are half way there. But you are starting to see slight glimmers of life. In Florida, for example, where inventories are falling and people are eager to put in bids on homes where they think they have deposit low prices.
More for Your Money: Stocks Under $10!
Alexis Glick: A fan favorite segment! Stocks under $10 each. Who say you have to spend a lot to make a lot? It's time to get "More for Your Money"?
Charles Payne: Sprint-Nextel (S )
Adam Lashinsky: VeraSun (VSE )
Eric Bolling: Dynegy (DYN )
Ben Stein: Washington Mutual (WM )
FOX on the Spot!
Eric Bolling: Midwest farmers need fertilizer; you need "POT " -- up 30 percent by '09!
Charles Payne: Want to make 20 percent in 18 Months? Buy "DGX "!
Adam Lashinsky: Take a Le$$on from history; stocks need 2-3 years to recover
Ben Stein: Wake up, Bernanke! We need you to cheer us up!
Dagen McDowell: A U.S. automaker will crash; Government will not ride to the rescue
Alexis Glick: "WALL-E" is a wowie! Pixar flick will make $60 million
In Flipside: Oil Speculators Help Bring Down Gas Prices!
Mike Ozanian, national editor: Without speculators oil prices would be higher. Speculators are great for the economy and they’re great for the market. By placing bets on the future price of oil, they provide more pricing information on oil and more price stability.
Elizabeth MacDonald, FOX Business Network: Speculation is adding to oil price tags, the problem is we don’t know how much. One of the biggest hedge funds collapses as of 2006 caused gas prices to spike in Georgia. And Enron speculation caused massive power outages in California. Speculation can be a problem.
Quentin Hardy, Silicon Valley bureau chief: I’m with Mike. What is the difference between speculation and investment? You will be speculating if you buy the stocks we recommend later in the show. You will also be investing. Any speculation is based on fundamentals. If it was all speculation, oil would be backed up, but oil is flowing.
Evelyn Rusli, Forbes.com anchor: Too much of a good thing is a bad thing. The surge in investors all placing the same bet is going to cause the market to be distorted. Beyond that, we are in different times. People are now pouring into commodities. Large scale investors are placing big bets on oil which is causing the run up in prices.
Josh Lipton, Forbes.com staff writer: The word speculator has become an insult. Mike is right, you want as many buyers, sellers and speculators as possible in the market. That’s going to give you an accurate price.
Victoria Barrett, associate editor: Speculators are adding to high oil prices. Where were the fundamentals in 1999? We’re seeing the same thing in oil. It’s is a bubble, and now the price is out of whack with actual demand because speculators are betting that the price is going to continue to go up.
In Focus: New Proof National Health Care Would Risk Lives?
Jack Gage, associate editor: A new report out this week showed that dozens of life saving drugs would not have been developed without research from the private sector. This is just further proof that national health care would be a disaster. Nationalized health care means you have to meet the lowest common denominator to control all of the prices. It’s nothing more than price control. Drug companies will cease to invest in new and lifesaving drugs because they’re losing money doing it.
Michael Maeillo, associate editor: Our health is as risk right now! But I think the pharmaceuticals should be happy to have the government more involved with funding these things. Give them more ideas and they will make more money.
Victoria Barret: I’m sure drug companies would love it if the government subsidized their research to a greater extent than what occurs now, but that’s not what we’re talking about. We’re talking about nationalized health care, which would be a problem because then you have a monopoly customer and the government would control pricing. Drug companies wouldn’t have the incentive to create new blockbuster drugs because they risk not having the drug at the right price.
Quentin Hardy: In drug development, the government and the private sector weight in equally. The government does basic research, and the pharmaceuticals do applied research. With the research comes tax credits, subsidies, and education. The government plays an enormous role and without it, this process would grind to a halt.
Neil Weinberg, senior editor: I think it would be good if national health care crowded out some of the “gold plated stuff” that’s going on. If you look at the reports that people like the WHO put out, the United States is a mediocre health care system. For most people in this country it does not work.
Elizabeth MacDonald: Families are being destroyed by high drug costs. I’m interested in the Wal-Mart model that teaches the world to get its money back from the drugs it sells based on volume. Volume instead of prices.
$4 Gas Fix: Shut Down 'Big Three' Automakers?
Neil Weinberg: Our auto industry is a car wreck that has already happened. It is beyond repair at this point. We’ve got management that’s out of touch and we’ve got unions that have it by the neck. Look at the UK; 10 years ago they massively increased and improved the quality of their output because they got rid of British automakers.
Mike Ozanian: They were saying the same thing about U.S. steel companies 25 years ago because of Japanese competition. Why not remove tariffs from U.S. oil companies? We need more competition.
Josh Lipton: I agree with Neil. These American car companies scream laziness, complacency, and a lack of innovation. They should take a lesson from the Japanese car companies to do some quality, reliable, high mileage cars. That will make money.
Lacey Rose, Forbes.com senior reporter: I’d be foolish to say the U.S. auto industry was in good shape right now. There’s no question it’s been shackled by union demands and mismanagement. But to say we’d be better off without the “big three” is ridiculous. Less competition is never good for the consumer. Competition keeps prices down and allows all of these auto companies to be more innovative in a way that allows them to differentiate themselves and stay at a cutting edge. American consumers want and need that.
Jack Gage: You have to look at the R&D punch to these companies. GM was the only one to increase its research & development budget in 2007 by 40 percent as Toyota and Ford’s went down. They’re the ones trying to innovate now and push forward.
Informer: Be$t Mutual Funds!
Mike Ozanian: Bruce Fund (BRUFX)
Neil Weinberg: Vanguard Small Cap Index (NAESX)
Evelyn Rusli: Fairholme Fund (FAIRX)
Josh Lipton: T. Rowe Price Capital Appreciation (PRWCX)
Best Way to Deal with High Gas Prices: Cut Income Taxes?
Jonathan Hoenig, CapitalistPig Asset Management: If you cut the income tax, especially on the rich, you will supercharge the economy and bring down prices. Everyone wants this innovation and investment. Stop wasting the money on entitlement programs and put it to use. You do this by cutting income tax.
Wayne Rogers, Rogers & Co: All you have to do is reinstate the Bush tax cuts. That has been what has produced most of the income in the last five years. Most people though are against it. A lot of the guys in Congress just don't see it that way. Obama, for example, doesn't see it that way. And gasoline taxes have very little to do with it. Gasoline tax is used to support the federal highway system. They ought to do away with the gasoline tax, make all major highways toll roads and gas will go down.
Tracy Byrnes, FOX Business Network: We are just pointing fingers here. Now it is the IRS's fault that gas is too high. We have to push the Bush tax cuts. That helps the economy. You are not seeing the forest beyond the trees here. We need an alternative fuel policy here. It has nothing to do with IRS tax cuts and has everything to do with drilling here.
Jonas Max Ferris, MaxFunds.com: It is the IRS' fault, partially because they have the gas guzzler tax on cars and not SUVs. There are plenty of problems with why gas is so high. Cutting the income tax is way smarter than cutting the gas tax. Lower the income tax on lower income people. Lower it on the first $25,000.
Obama's Economic Policies: Job Creator or Job Killer?
Tracy Byrnes: The whole thing is loony. They are not putting it back into the economy. The fact that Obama can sit there and say we need to send out more money is ludicrous. We do not need any more handouts from the government. The system needs to work itself through. The personal consumption numbers are up. It is inflated because of these checks. We need to get -- the system needed to purge.
Tanya Acker, Democratic strategist: Inefficiencies in the current stimulus package are not Barack Obama's issue or fault. It is disingenuous to suggest he would repeat these. But the stimulus package he is proposing is less than a third of the current stimulus pack. It is much cheaper. His is going to be targeted more towards homeowners in distress or increasing the amount of unemployment benefits and increasing the time. And there is a certain amount of he is proposing a certain rebate proposal.
Jonathan Hoenig: Is it stimulus? It is called a stimulus package, but in my opinion a redistribution of wealth from people who have earned it to people who haven't. We give checks to people who are dead and don't pay taxes. You don't create prosperity by stealing from the rich and giving to the poor.
Wayne Rogers: The whole thing is ludicrous and stupid. They are the dumbest people in the world, issuing checks to dead people? The congress is mindless. You are talking about a third grade student would understand how stupid this is. The fact that Obama happens to be supporting that kind of thing doesn't necessarily make him stupid. He is a brilliant, intelligent guy. But some of the policies are just idiotic. You just have to laugh. You could think that the federal government can do anything.
Jonas Max Ferris: George Bush invented the give your tax money back as a rebate. Is it wasteful? Sure it sounds dumb on paper. It is just shifting money around. Think of all the things the government could do under the guides of economic stimulus that could be more wasteful like new programs. We saw consumption go up. It is because of the check. It is not the most wasteful way to get the economy going.
Lawyers Suing Countrywide: Threat to Home Prices, Sales?
Jonathan Hoenig: The lawsuits could be against the people who made loans and didn't pay it back. It is not their responsibility to insure the loans can be repaid. That is the borrower's responsibility and that is what is lost.
Wayne Rogers: Senator Conrad, a Democrat from North Dakota got a favor from countrywide. So did senator Dodd. Other people dependent get that. Shouldn't that be subject to some sort of investigation? There are people out there getting mortgages who shouldn't be getting them.
Tracy Byrnes: People are afraid to get back in the housing market right now if they think that anything is going to happen to save them from the evil. All 50 states are going to have lawsuits. It is going to help housing. People are going to say, ‘hey, the bad guys are going down.' It is safe to get in.
Jonas Max Ferris: It would have been a great thing for housing had this investigation happened four or five years ago when these lending practices were going on. Where were the regulators when the trouble was building? But the reality is that at this point in the game, anything that makes lending more difficult for lenders is going to hurt the housing market.
Best Bets: All-American Stocks
Give us your all-American stock buys as we approach Independence Day!
Wayne Rogers: Ashford Hospitality Trust (AHT)
Jonas Max Ferris: Sara Lee (SLE)
Jonathan Hoenig: United States Natural Gas (UNG)