Neil Cavuto was joined by Bernard Kerik, former NYC Police Commissioner; Rep. David Dreier, D-Calif.; Gregg Hymowitz, founder of Entrust Capital; Jim Rogers, president of JimRogers.com; Meredith Whitney, Fox Business News contributor; Dave Nelson, CEO of DC Nelson Asset Management; and Rep. Harold Ford, Jr., D-Tenn.
France: Enemy of the State?
Neil Cavuto: Is France now enemy number one to America and our stock market? President Bush extends an olive branch at the U.N. last week and while the French say they're willing to work with us, Jacques Chirac's speech was more an attack on us, and our efforts in Iraq. Bernie Kerik, France seems unwilling to help with the enormous costs of Iraq unless we do it entirely their way.
Bernard Kerik: We have to get courage. France didn't have enough courage to stand up to Saddam Hussein. They didn't have courage to move forward knowing that Saddam just ignored one resolution after another. They know it was the right thing to do even though they don't like to acknowledge it in public.
Neil Cavuto: Congressman Drier, do you worry that because they didn't take our olive branch and go with the program that this could be a problem for us going forward?
Congressman Drier: I'm a half glass full kind of guy. I think the meeting the President had with Jacques Chirac coupled with the speech is a beginning. It was easy for us to bash the French because they gave us a lot of reason to. But we have much more in agreement with France and Western Europe than we do in disagreement. We're the largest trading partner France has outside of the European Union. The economic relationship transcends any of these political bumps in the road.
Meredith Whitney: I think a way of describing the French is N.A.F.T.A, Not A Factor To Anyone. I think they're flexing their muscle because they know they have much less political strength than they ever have before. Chirac doesn't have a lot of courage because he's got a lot of Muslims living in his country.
Jim Rogers: This is politics. Chirac is playing to his voters like everyone in politics plays to their voters. This is not going to affect our economy or our stock market.
Gregg Hymowitz: 52 percent of Americans feel a little troubled right now about spending $87 billion in Iraq. I think the language is a little inflammatory when we say the French have no courage. Many Americans are now looking back at why we went to war and are now very uncomfortable with it. The French are taking a position that is very similar to many Americans right now.
Meredith Whitney: The United States represents over 60 percent of the worldwide GDP. So they can complain but no one can really afford to go against the United States here. I think that as a result you'll see a lot of cooperation with Europe in the future.
Neil Cavuto: But you Mr. Kerik say that the French are getting it wrong. That there is a great deal of good news coming out of Iraq but it's just not being reported.
Bernard Kerik: There's an enormous amount of good things going on in Iraq. The economy is coming back. The infrastructure is being built, not rebuilt. It's being built because the infrastructure was so deteriorated.
Gregg Hymowitz: But how does us building railroads in Iraq protect American citizens?
Bernard Kerik: Protecting our citizens on a daily basis is essential. We have to secure the country of Iraq and the Iraqi people have to do that.
Gregg Hymowitz: Why? What's the connection between 9-11 and Iraq?
Bernard Kerik: You have to take away the threat in Iraq and every country around Iraq. You have to take out Saddam. That's what's being done and that's what's been done.
Jim Rogers: But he's gone. Why do we still spend hundreds of billions of dollars. Why don't we come home?
Neil Cavuto: Are you assuming that everything is hunky dory now and we can just come home?
Bernard Kerik: If we come home tomorrow, Saddam is back in a week. That's why.
Congressman Drier: Well, I'm the only person here who is actually going to have a vote in the $87 billion. There is a recognition that we got into this and for us to now withdraw would be wrong. I know the argument is being made, why are we doing these things in Iraq that we could be doing here at home. I think we need to realize that, as the President has said, there is not a direct correlation with 9-11 and Saddam Hussein. We do know that there are forces within Iraq that would love to do in the United States.
More for Your Money
Neil Cavuto: There may be new proof the stock market is the best place to get more for your money. Investors are embracing the brand new stocks hitting wall street this year. The average initial public offering -- commonly called "IPO" is up 35 percent. That's way above the overall market and much better than last year. Dave, what do you think this means?
Dave Nelson: I think it certainly means that investors have an appetite for risk. But it's backward looking. It tells us where we've been, not where we're going. In terms of its predicting power, I'm not sure.
Jim Rogers: It could be a negative because usually by the time people get the confidence to start buying again, they should really be selling.
Gregg Hymowitz: Investors are obviously willing to take a lot more risks now. My contacts are telling me that the pipelines in investment banks are only increasing. It shows that the capital markets are more liquid. Spreads have narrowed. I think in general that's a positive.
Dave Nelson: Back in 2000, the IPO market was flying. I mean you couldn't have gotten any better. So how predictive was that?
Jim Rogers: We're talking about what you should be doing now. You should've been buying back in the summer of 2002. To say that you're going to buy now is complete madness.
Gregg Hymowitz: I agree the IPO market, with 10 new IPOs every day, stocks going up 20, 30 points represented the beginning or the end of the bubble. We're not talking about that. We're talking about a few IPOs, with a pipeline building. Investors willing to look at new companies.
Neil Cavuto: That's a good point. Let's take a look at some of these companies. Meredith, which one do you like?
Meredith Whitney: I think it's really about supply and demand. In the past 2 years you've had no IPOs in the month of September. So far you have about a billion and five for the month of September. But on a year over year basis, you're still down versus last year. I like Google. It hasn't filed yet because it has a billion in revenue. Microsoft has expressed an interest in buying them. It's a great search engine.
Neil Cavuto: How about you Dave Nelson?
Dave Nelson: One that we like that did come out is Molina Healthcare (MOH). It's a small health care provider that has HMO status. I don't care about the fundamentals in this but Molina Healthcare owns about 60 percent of the float and they're going to sell out at much higher prices.
Jim Rogers: You don't care about the fundamentals?
Dave Nelson: I shouldn't have said that. I do care but it's not the driving criteria.
Jim Rogers: The same thing with Meredith. What are the fundamentals with Google? Is it an expensive stock?
Meredith Whitney: We don't know yet. It has priced yet.
Jim Rogers: Well then don't say to me "buy it" if you don't even know the price.
Meredith Whitney: If you look at the IPO market over the past month or so you have deals that are pricing historically below market and that's when investors have the great upside.
Neil Cavuto: And here's what I don't see. I don't see just the blip screen of offerings that we got at the height of the market last time. While it's certainly up from where it was, it was up from zero. So Gregg what do you make of that?
Gregg Hymowitz: That was the point I was trying to make. As companies are able to raise more capital it will have ripple effects throughout the economy. I see that as a positive.
Head to Head
Neil Cavuto: Congressman Harold Ford Jr., says rich Americans should give back their tax cut to help pay for rebuilding Iraq. Mr. Ford, you've got to be kidding me.
Harold Ford, Jr.: No, I'm not. $87 billion, anyone should be willing to help with that. The dividend tax cut, the marginal tax rate reduction on the highest tax bracket, if we suspended it for one year and call on us to sacrifice like the troops are sacrificing for us. I think it's fair and I think it's the American thing to do.
Neil Cavuto: I think if you're going to talk about sacrifice you should talk about sacrificing a lot of the spending in Congress. Why go after people who've given a lot of money to the government to pay for the programs you hold dear to make some patriotic statement when the patriotic statement should be made by you folks.
Harold Ford, Jr.: I'm in full support of that and will find ways to cut fraud and cut abuse and cut spending.
Neil Cavuto: Cut it now. Why go after people who pay their hard earned money into taxes? Why go after them?
Harold Ford, Jr.: If we cut the entire discretionary budget, that means for education, transportation, healthcare, housing. If we zeroed it out, we'd still run a $100 billion deficit and a projected $150 billion deficit next year. I'm in support of eliminating fraud and abuse too.
Neil Cavuto: But Congressman you're not. Rather than make the debate about giving people their money back, what about the money that the government is still keeping from them.
Harold Ford, Jr.: I like you want a lower tax burden as possible. I like you want to see success in Iraq. I like you want our schools to work well. And I like you want our markets to be transparent and productive. Unfortunately, it takes money to do these things. And after a while there are some painful decisions we'll have to make. I'd be willing to give up a little bit of my tax cut. Think about all families that had to send their wife, their daughter, their son, their father off to Iraq. It's the least we can do.
Neil Cavuto: People have to make sacrifices. But you're saying the people who already have to give close to 35 percent of their income to the government don't make a sacrifice enough? You've got to be kidding. You honestly think that if you take a tax cut back, you're going to give it back a year later?
Harold Ford, Jr.: I take my job seriously as a trustee of this government. I don't know how else we pay for it. If we froze all discretionary spending like veterans healthcare and education we'd still have a deficit and couldn't pay for all of these things. I say for one year, let us make a sacrifice.
FOX on the Spot
David Nelson: Hillary Clinton runs for president and stocks fall as a result!
Jim Rogers: Someone goes to jail over NYSE scandal.
Gregg Hymowitz: Economy gets a boost from weak dollar.
Neil Cavuto: The U.N. is showing more support for sharing the burden in Iraq, likely calming things down there and lifting the market here. President Bush will get just what he wants from the U.N. after all.