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; Eric Bolling, FOX Business News; Pat Dorsey, Morningstar.com; Matt McCall, Penn Financial; Marc Lamont Hill, Ph.D, Temple University.
Trading Pit: Walmart Warning: Could Dem Election Victory Hurt Business?
Matt McCall: Walmart hit it on the head: if the Dems are in office in November, big business is in trouble. It will increase labor costs which is bad for the economy.
Gary B. Smith: I'm all about the data. The most heavily unionized sectors, like government and education, are inefficient. Sounds like there's a correlation to me.
Marc Lamont Hill: A labor union revolution is needed in America. If Walmart increases the price of a pair of socks by one penny, that would equal an $1800 raise per employee. It's not that dramatic if Walmart unionized.
Eric Bolling: I don't like unions. But there is a silver lining for Walmart: Dems in office = minimum wage going up and then prices would go down. That's good for the Walmart customer. If a Dem gets in…I'm moving my money into stocks like Walmart and Costco.
Pat Dorsey: This is a tempest in a teapot. Walmart is anti-union: no news there. Unions are going to continue their downward trend. It's not a big deal.
Stock X-Change: New "Bull Market" Leaders!
Gary B. Smith: Fedex (FDX )
Eric Bolling: Flowserve (FLS )
Matt McCall: Genco Shipping (GNK )
Pat Dorsey: Wellpoint (WLP )
Congress Goes on 5-Week Vacation: Will It Bring $5 Gas?
Matt McCall: Congress leaves us high and dry again. In my next life, I want to be in congress. Something must be done. High Gas prices are great for the Dems.
Marc Lamont Hill: It's a mixed bag for me. I'm happy about not getting a vote on drilling, but unhappy about no vote on windfall taxes on oil companies or encouraging energy efficiency.
Gary B. Smith: Marc baffles me. I'm a big proponent of Congress doing nothing because it lets the free market work. Congress is preventing the free market from working by not allowing companies go off and find new sources of energy.
Eric Bolling: Take another 5-weeks after these 5-weeks. Democrats might eventually open up ANWR. Gas goes down to $3.50, maybe $3.25 by end of summer.
Election Day Predictions
Gary B. Smith: Dow 13,000 no matter who wins! Add some sparkle with "DIA "
Eric Bolling: Fill up with $3.50 gas on Nov. 4! Jump aboard the "NSC " express!
Pat Dorsey: No housing rebound by Nov, but bet the house on "JOE "
Matt McCall: Unemployment will fall to 5.2 percent, hire "FAST " to work for you!
On Saturday, August 2nd, 2008, Dagen McDowell was joined by Charles Payne, wstreet.com; Adam Lashinsky, Fortune Magazine; Pat Powell, The Powell Financial Group; Mike Norman, Contrarian Update Founder; and Phil Flynn, Alaron Trading.
Bottom Line: Pelosi's 'Trying to Save the Planet,' But Is She Going to Kill the Economy Instead?
Dagen McDowell: Did you hear what Nancy Pelosi said this week? She said she's trying to save the planet. But, someone here says the only thing the House Speaker will do with her green agenda is kill our economy. Charles, what say you?
Charles Payne: I think it is killing our economy. High gas prices are killing consumer confidence. This notion of clean air, everyone gets it. We all want clean air. But, humans versus the planet and we should be rooting for the planet is preposterous! It is a smokescreen by people who don't want to interfere with the beautiful California coastline. These elitists don't care that people in Kentucky, West Virginia and the rest of the country is suffering… as long as Nancy Pelosi and her rich friends have the coastline, it's ok. It is a scam!
Dagen McDowell: Americans want it. Americans want offshore drilling.
Leigh Gallagher: But Charles! The real smokescreen here is the flawed economics. It takes 5-10 years before we see any of the drilled oil. Five years from now, oil prices are going to come back. The whole thing that led to this ban was a three-million gallon spill by Union Oil off the coast of Santa Barbara.
Charles Payne: We have a tunnel in New York. Every mile, someone dies. Thousands of people have died building bridges in America. A space shuttle exploded! If we stop doing things because there are accidents periodically, we would still be with the horse and buggy.
Leigh Gallagher: We are drilling in the Gulf. There are 4,000 platforms churning out a million barrels a day.
Dagen McDowell: Ben, would not drilling damage the economy?
Ben Stein: No, it won't damage the economy much, but it will make us more energy insecure and more dependent on foreign oil. And that is a very bad thing. There is no report of recent spills lately by US oil drilling and US oil refining companies. Whatever problems there were in Santa Barbara, they seem to have been able to solve them. It is a myth that there is going to be a big environmental disaster if they drill. If it makes us more secure, so that we are less subject to blackmail by hostile countries, it is worth doing just for that. Charles's point was brilliant. Man versus planet and we are rooting for the planet?? We are MAN.
Adam Lashinsky: That is fine, but it is equally hyperbolic to suggest that NOT opening up drilling off the coast would kill the economy. Or to say that one woman, my Congresswoman by the way, is killing the economy! This is not the back-breaker you are painting it to be, Charles. This is one instance of one group of Americans saying their objection to the environmental damage to their coastline because they have experienced it before. This is a much bigger issue than just drilling off the coast of California.
Gary Kaltbaum: Let's get back to Economic 101 here. You increase supply and prices come down. We have been listening to people saying don't. My favorite line from Pelosi in the last week was "drilling for oil is a hoax." Those were her exact words. That is absolutely insane. It is not hurting the economy? That is crazy!
Adam Lashinsky: Gary, you know that we don't have a supply problem of gas in the United States. Inventories are building. People are using less gasoline. That isn't the problem. You can't guarantee that adding supply will bring the price down, especially when Chinese, Indian, and Brazilian economies are going the way they are.
Gary Kaltbaum: It definitely would bring the price down! Psychology plays into the markets. When George Bush made that announcement two weeks ago, prices came down.
Adam Lashinsky: Ahh, you dream it and it will happen.
Dagen McDowell: I want to know why these politicians, none of them, talk about the demand side of the equation. Conservation, doing something to make sure that in the long run, we're using less fuel, is all about supplies.
Charles Payne: Here's the biggest problem we have in our country right now: Our Congress is not solution-oriented. It is finger-pointing and blame-oriented. It is a lot easier to blame oil companies as opposed to saying, "Lets figure this out." Everyone wants to figure this out! A $1,000 tax rebate won't help tomorrow either. The things put out there are put out there to appease the public. It's going to take everything! Conservation, taking advantage of our resources… By the way, I think we should try to stop sending $700 billion a year to some of our potential enemies.
Gary Kaltbaum: How about just doing something? Congress went on vacation this week and not one bill got passed on appropriations. Push a button. Do anything!
Dagen McDowell: One thing about drilling off-shore: The concern there, at least from my perspective is, from my perspective is you drill, you discover more oil, and we just drink it up and we are back right where we are right now… dependent on foreign oil several decades from now.
Ben Stein: That would be true no matter what! You may say that about life itself. You drink up life and pretty soon, life is over. I'm not sure what that means. We will drill for oil and use less foreign oil.
Dagen McDowell: But, the point is you need to conserve.
Ben Stein: We all need to conserve. Yes, that is true.
Charles Payne: The bottom line is we are not going to get off crude oil any time soon. If we can take advantage of our own resources and use that as a bridge until we get to these alternative… The key is not to forget: If the price of oil comes down, the price of gas comes down, American should not forget the crisis we're in and keep the pressure on to find alternative fuels. But, we are not going to flip a switch and have an alternative for gas right now.
Leigh Gallagher: The notion that we can drill our way out of the current crisis is just wrong no matter what anybody says. I think we can all agree on that. If we could get another three-million barrels a day, maybe that would be great! That is if we can actually get to that oil and drill it out. Along with that, you have to be looking at other resources and making a long-term plan.
Dagen McDowell: I have been looking at the new fuel economy standards. If you put them in place, that actually would save more oil than would be produced by drilling off-shore. So again, it goes back…
Adam Lashinsky: Hold on! That is an excellent point. If we can have like a five second civics lesson here… we have a system of checks and balances. You raise a great point about fuel economy standards, and they are not what people hoped they would be. There was compromise that went into getting the meager standard increases. You are absolutely right.
Dagen McDowell: Ben, final word.
Ben Stein: The final word is we have got to do everything. We have to conserve and drill for oil. The real crisis is not whether there is going to be gas stations next week. It is if all the Muslim countries turn against us and stop sending the oil. Then, we will be in trouble.
Head to Head: Delta Hikes Bag Fee – Going Too Far or Just Business?
Dagen McDowell: Get ready to pay even MORE next time you fly! This week, Delta Airlines announcing that a second checked bag will cost you twice as much. That's $50 each way! Higher fuel costs once again being blamed. But, are airlines just using that as an excuse to rip-off passengers? It's time to go "Head to Head."
Joining us now from the Consumer Federation of America is Jack Gillis. Jack – Delta isn't the only one charging more. US Airways just announced that a cup of coffee is going to cost you up to $2 a cup. Are the airlines ripping off passengers?
Jack Gillis: Not only are they over charging, there's no way these individual items can be attributed specifically to the cost of fuel. The bottom line is all of us are pay more for everything for fuel. What the airlines need to do is simply increase their ticket prices. This a la carte pricing is making it impossible for us to shop around. This is an industry that already had very low customer ratings. We pay a lot of money for a service for which there is no guarantee. You are not necessarily going to get from point A to point B during the expected time you want. We see a la carte pricing, consumers not being able to shop around, and we probably have no idea whether or not that $50 a bag translated into increased oil prices.
Dagen McDowell: Ben, you fly all over the place. Are the airlines ripping us off?
Ben Stein: Not at all. Airlines are an incredible bargain. That being said, I had the horrible occasion last week to actually go "coach."
Ben Stein: I discovered there is a whole section at the back of the plane. And people are crammed! I'm just kidding. I often go coach. You get crammed in like sardines! It is psychologically catastrophic. I agree with Mr Gillis. Charge higher fares, but don't cram us in there like sardines, don't charge psychological warfare against us. Just get us there in halfway decent comfort. We will pay more for it.
Dagen McDowell: These bag fees, what do you make of them?
Charles Payne: They are not ripping people off, but the way they are doing it is so hand-fisted! In the old cartoon "Underdog," in the beginning, Riff Raff would turn the guy upside down and shake all the money out of the pockets. It's nuts the way the airlines are treating people! I would pay $50 for not leaving me on the tarmac for three hours. Don't lie to me. Everyone is making the same point. They do have fuel increases, but it may not translate into $50 a bag. I don't agree that the airlines are ripping us off. Look at their income statements. They are not making a lot of money. A lot of them are going out of business.
Dagen McDowell: I would argue what Delta did is good business. A lot of the other airlines have tacked on $15 for the first checked bag…
Leigh Gallagher: I really don't think so. They are raising ticket prices and doing this horrible PR stuff. It's generating all these bad feelings AND raising ticket prices. They could easily raise ticket prices a little more and avoid the nickel and dime fees. Everyone is going to cram more carry-ons into the cabin… and make for a horrible experience on board.
Charles Payne: You look at the income statements. They are not making any money.
Leigh Gallagher: They're not. But, don't forget what happened after 9/11. The entire industry was close to bankruptcy and they didn't do any of this stuff!
Dagen McDowell: Don't tell me as prices fall that airlines are going to get rid of these fees. If they can stick now, they are here to say.
Gary Kaltbaum: They are going to take it very slow on the other way. I go through the financials of these companies. They have to raise prices. They are doing it the wrong way. Whoever is their marketing or PR people, they are insane! You don't want to tiki-tack the consumer with the $5 here and $10 there. I just read that US Air is going to start charging for water this weekend. That is going to make people mad! With their rating South of Congress, it's just not the way to go about it.
Dagen McDowell: Jack, the airlines have slapped on these bag fees because they can't raise ticket prices dramatically. This is just a stop gap to increased cost they felt with fuel.
Jack Gillis: There is absolutely no reason why they can't raise prices. You heard it from all the other speakers today. The bottom line is we are willing to pay a fair price, but, we want good service. The airlines have done a horrible job with service. We want to be treated fairly, and most of us are in the back of the plane, and we don't want to be crammed in there as if we are on some tiny, little bus going to some foreign country. The bottom line is consumers do pay a lot of money for air travel, and that air travel has become a worse and worse value over time.
More for Your Money: Stocks Ready to Come Back From the Dead!
Dagen McDowell: "The Mummy" isn't the only thing coming back from the dead this weekend! Our guys have the stocks killed in the market, but are ready to rise again so you can get "More for Your Money"!
Gary Kaltbaum: Motorola (MOT )
Adam Lashinsky: Tata Motors (TTM )
Charles Payne: EMC Corp (EMC )
Ben Stein: iShares MSCI EAFE Index (EFA)
*Ben owns shares of this ETF.
FOX on the Spot!
Gary Kaltbaum: Don't raise taxes on us; businesses owe Uncle Sam $58B!
Charles Payne: "Fairness" is killing us; top 1 percent pays 40 percent of all taxes
Adam Lashinsky: Merry Christmas, Jerry! "YHOO " dumps CEO, jumps 15 percent
Leigh Gallagher: Summer blockbusters prove a recession is here!
Ben Stein: Boomers start buying VTSXM to save your retirement
Dagen McDowell: SUVs back in style when gas falls to $3.50
In Focus: 'President Obama': Job Creator or Job Killer?
Victoria Barret, associate editor: Obama talks about job creation but his policy is more stimulus…it puts money into government coffers. It's not really job creation. Job creation happens from businesses, particularly small businesses. If he wants to create jobs, he should be talking about tax cuts on small businesses. That's no where in his plan.
Quentin Hardy, Silicon Valley bureau chief: Victoria needs to read the white pages on both candidates' web sites. You missed the part where Obama says tax simplification for small businesses. You missed the part where he said create two million jobs to rebuild America's infrastructure; bridges, highways, airports. That's great for businesses. Five million jobs for alternative energy and energy saving advanced manufacturing techniques. McCain, by comparison, is talking about a gas tax holiday, which takes away from our infrastructure.
Mike Ozanian, national editor: Obama would be a job destroyer. One of the things Obama wants to do is create windfall taxes from oil company profits and disperse it to people who will vote for him. That's terrible. We're supposed to be supporting capitalism.
Mike Maiello, associate editor: Obama is not just a job creator, but a creator of good jobs. I really like Mike Ozanian saying we should be supporting profitable companies. One of the best ways to support profitable companies is to give them the national infrastructures that they can use to make profits. That means bridges that don't collapse. Highways that aren't falling apart. This stimulus package Obama is offering can give people good jobs in construction, engineering and design.
John Rutledge, Forbes contributor: Obama has a tax simplification system. Line one is: did you make any money? Line two is: please send it in! That's what this guy's about… high tax rates. He's a job killer. We don't care about the number of jobs, we care about the productivity of the jobs. Productivity comes from access to tools and technology. Tools are responsive to whether they get paid or not. They're mobile. They can go anywhere in the world. Raising tax rates will lower their returns, lower their productivity, drive capital off shore and knock the stock market down. This is not a formula to make jobs.
Flipside: Gas Falls Below $4/gal: Bad News for America!
Quentin Hardy: Once gas goes under $4 a gallon, all the media says relax, don't worry, and that changes behavior. The great thing about having gas over $4 a gallon is people have responded. It's made Detroit make new cars. People are driving less. It's good for the way people to take better care of their cars. It's structurally good. It gets us off of our oil addiction.
Lacy Rose, Forbes.com senior reporter: It's a timing issue. I think that $4 a gallon gas could yield positive results if we ultimately become less fuel dependant. The issue here is we don't have alternatives in place to make that price tag palatable. It's a fragile economic environment. For far too long, gas was too cheap in America so consumers didn't have to bear the environmental cost. So consumers went around and bought SUVs and now are paying the price.
Victoria Barret: $4 gas is good. It does change our behavior and it's stoking the right kind of innovation from the private sector I might add. To Lacey's point, we could have had much more fuel efficient cars many, many years ago. But there wasn't demand. That's why we are where we are.
Evelyn Rusli, Forbes.com anchor: There's a stronger correlation between high gas prices and lower discretionary spending. Look at the malls, look at the restaurants, look at Starbucks. Store closings, lay offs, massive lay offs. It comes down to consumer psychology. It's the worse time to beat on the consumer.
Mike Ozanian: Am I the only guy here whose wife drives an SUV? This is great for my family. I got a few more bucks for Dunkin' Donuts, etc. And I don't know why we want Detroit to stop making these gas guzzlers? They were the only things making money in Detroit.
JetBlue CEO Cuts His Own Pay in Half: Smart or Stupid Move?
Josh Lipton, Forbes.com staff writer: Full disclosure Dave: I fly JetBlue. I like JetBlue. But the truth is, this move by its CEO is a weak, empty gesture. Bigger question for the CEO... has he improved financial performance? Has he pleased stock holders? That's what he should be concentrating on. Not cheap PR stunts.
Mike Maiello: It's about time that the politicrats in the airline industry, and other industries, give a little when their employees and their share holders are hurting. We've seen it too many times where thousands of people have been laid off, the stock price falls, the company heads into bankruptcy and then a CEO says I need to keep my raise or I'm not going to say in this job. Go then! Go!
Mike Ozanian: This CEO cutting his pay is a bad I idea. I think this guy should give himself a big raise! He has the second best performing airline. If you tie in CEO pay to short term performance you're going to have a disaster because that means all the CEO has to do is slash the number of employees, which would be horrible for employment, which would boost profit and CEO pay. It's terrible.
John Rutledge: Look, I hire and fire CEOs in my day job. There are two things to know. First, an airline is not a real business. Airlines are owned by their employees. Second, I like what this guy's doing. If the business is going down, there's nothing wrong with the CEO taking a pay cut. But we've got to be careful here. Look out in the boardroom because it's what happens in his stock pay check not his salary pay check.
Lacy Rose: This is a very good move. Don't underestimate the value of some good PR right now given the state of the airline industry. It's also a good employee moral move. I think that's important.
Informer: Election Winners
Mike Ozanian: Merrill Lynch (MER)
Josh Lipton: Molson Coors (TAP)
Evelyn Rusli: Teva Pharmaceutical (TEVA)
John Rutledge: Google (GOOG)
Stock Smarts: Are Your Taxes Heading Higher No Matter Who Wins the White House?
Johnathan Hoenig, Caitalistpig.com: Yes, especially if you're wealthy. Both candidates are about self-sacrifice. Barack Obama: having you paying for everything. John McCain: all about paying for your neighbor's social security to buying lollipops for Iraqi kids. Get ready to pay more!
Wayne Rogers, Wayne Rogers & Co.: Of course, taxes have got to go up. The terrible part about is that they all continue to talk about spending. I don't see a difference between the two parties. Nancy Pelosi hasn't done a thing since she's been in office.
Tracy Byrnes, FOX Business Network: Obama laid it out on the table: your taxes are going up! McCain, in an almost sneaky way, is saying through pay roll taxes, your taxes are going up.
Jonas Max Ferris, MaxFunds.com: Oprah's taxes are going to go up the most. I think taxes are going up more under Obama. It's not that crazy since we're in a deficit. We need higher taxes to get back to a surplus.
John "Bradshaw" Layfield, Layfield Energy: As a small business owner if you raise taxes on me, I have to fire workers. They call me rich because I make over $250,000 a year? I employ people. You've got a massive deficit that's killing the dollar. They'd all be in jail if they were in private enterprise!
"Climate Cops": Proof the "Greenies" Are Brainwashing Our Kids?
Tracy Byrnes: As a parent, you have enough to worry about it. The last thing we need are the greenies to tell our kids what to do. I'm the only cop in my house. I will teach my kids about climate control at my pace. It's crazy!
Jonathan Hoenig: What are the greens teaching them? That turning the lights on is bad? That consumerism is bad? That energy is evil? Eating meat is bad?
JLB: I can't stand these liberal tree-huggers, but I think this is a good program. Tell your parents to conserve.
Jonas Max Ferris: No one's teaching these kids consumerism? Just watch some of these TV commercials and you'll see that these kids buy more junk than I can imagine. I think this program is fine.
Wayne Rogers: I read an article comparing this to the Hitler youth movement. This is not a government inspired thing! This is an advertising thing by a power company to encourage kids to conserve energy. You can reject it! It's a free market.
Is SEIU Labor Union Using Tax Dollars to Help Elect Barack Obama and Other Democrats?
Terry Keenan, host: SEIU members include government workers who are paid with tax payer money. Money from the SEIU members' paychecks is being used to help elect Barack Obama and other candidates whether the member supports the candidate or not.
JBL: Shows you how corrupt the unions are and how corrupt the politicians are by taking this money. Unions have not been good for America in the past 50 years. They ruined the auto industry. They ruined the airlines They almost ruin baseball! Get rid of the Unions!
Ellis Henican, FOX Political Contributor: First of all, it's not tax payers' money. It's the workers' money. If they want a Big Mac or a lap dance, we let them do that. They voted to have unions to come in to their work place by majority vote. It's their money!
Tracy Byrnes: But if they have all this money, why are they fighting for all this healthcare? High wages? All this stuff. Unions are terrible. It's the demise of the auto industry.
Wayne Rogers: Unions have been good to me. I think the some unions do provide a good service.
Jonathan Hoenig: People can support who ever they want. It's wrong that the unions make someone contribute to make that donation. Honestly, Ellis, it's not some individual supporting a candidate, they compel union members to support a candidate.
Jonas Max Ferris: I'm not crazy about unions. But I gotta say it's the best use of their money, because Democrats are more pro union, and it benefits them to try and elect Democrats.
Best Bets: Stocks for All Ages!
Yahoo (YHOO) — one month
LDK Solar (LDK) — one year
Transocean (RIG) — 5 years