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.
Ephren Taylor's prediction: Energy Crisis Tanks Stocks; Get Ready For Dow 11K
Gary B. Smith's prediction: Oil Bubble Bursts! "DUG " Up 30 percent By End Of 08
Eric Bolling's prediction: Hop Aboard The "BNI " Train! Up 40 percent By Next May
Tobin Smith's prediction: When The Going Gets Tough Do Yoga! "LULU " Up 50 percent By Next Spring
Scott Bleier's prediction: Wii At Home, Profit At Lifetime Fitness (LTM ); Up 30 percent By 09
Cavuto on Business
On Saturday, May 24, 2008, Neil Cavuto was joined by Dagen McDowell, FOX Business Network; Ben Stein, “Yes, You Can Supercharge Your Portfolio” author; Charles Payne, wstreet.com; Adam Lashinsky, Fortune Magazine; David Nelson, DC Nelson Asset Mgmt.
Exclusive: Interview with President Bush
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
Neil Cavuto: I know trade has been very, very important to you, in an environment where increasingly with Congress it is not. Now, you were trying to get the message across that this is good for American workers.
President Bush: Yes.
Neil Cavuto: Democratic leaders are saying quite the opposite. Whose side is winning in this argument?
President Bush: Well, it's one reason I asked to have some of these pieces of equipment here. See that Case Quad Trac? If the trade agreement with Colombia goes through, that will be $15,500 less expensive in Colombia. It means it'll be easier for somebody to purchase that really well-made piece of equipment, made right here in America. My point is, is that, why doesn't it make sense to open up more markets for U.S. products that people around the world want? And the way you do that is with a trade agreement that reduces tariffs. Now, goods coming from Colombia come in duty-free, basically. Our goods going to Colombia are taxed, which makes them more expensive. And all I'm saying to Congress is, be practical and level the playing field. Let's just have people treat us the way we treat them.
Neil Cavuto: But Nancy Pelosi, the Speaker, has effectively tabled this.
President Bush: Yes, she has.
Neil Cavuto: So it's the procedural matter you alluded to. Any chance that it's being resurrected?
President Bush: There's a chance, if the American people begin to recognize that selling goods overseas is really important for economic vitality and growth. And there's a chance, when workers who work for Mack, or, you know Case, or Caterpillar, or farmers and ranchers who sell their products overseas start speaking out about why it's in our economic advantage to open up markets. I'm disappointed. And, by the way, so are a lot of world leaders who talk to me. They cannot believe that the United States is unwilling to conclude a simple trade deal with Colombia, because they understand that it's a bad sign about American leadership. And they understand that turning our back on a strong, democratic ally in South America will embolden the voices of false populism.
Neil Cavuto: So do you link the passage of this trade deal, Mr. President, with bucking up Colombian President Uribe, who's also got a battle of wills on his hands with Hugo Chavez?
President Bush: Yes. No, absolutely.
Neil Cavuto: So if this doesn't happen, what happens?
President Bush: If this doesn't happen, there will be a great deal of -- and more likely there would be insecurity there. Look, we turned our back on a strong ally. We have said to President Uribe: We're not going to do a simple trade deal with you, which will have, you know, security consequences for him, because it will embolden those voices of false populism, like I like to say, people who are anti-American. They'll say, "You can't trust America." And it's going to be -- it'll be a terrible letdown. You know, I just can't urge Congress enough to demand a vote and then consider the consequences, positive economic consequences, and the negative national security and the positive national security consequences, which would be negative if they didn't vote it up or down.
Neil Cavuto: Mr. President, those who...
President Bush: Didn't vote it up.
Neil Cavuto: Right. Those who are against this have said that this has really come down to a union issue.
President Bush: Yes.
Neil Cavuto: Unions don't like it because they fear American jobs will be lost. Furthermore, they're not too keen on President Uribe, because they think he's not a very friendly union guy there.
President Bush: Well, first of all, President Uribe has heard these concerns.
He's addressed these concerns. And we've had a lot of travels down there with members of Congress. They have seen that he is a reformer. He has helped provide union officials with security. In terms of whether or not it loses jobs, I strongly disagree. I think it'll help create jobs. I think it's more likely somebody who builds a product like that that is sold in Colombia will be able to keep a job and will be able to have somebody else working beside them over time. I don't understand the logic. I don't understand why somebody can't understand that if a good is coming in from Colombia tax-free, we ought to demand the same thing from Colombia to us. And if you're a farmer in America or a rancher in America, you want your government opening up markets so it would make it easier for you to sell.
Neil Cavuto: All right. So how do you counter, sir, the argument from -- let's just say candidates on the stump and the Democratic leadership, who are saying, "Well, if these trade agreements were so great, we wouldn't be in such a slowdown right now"?
President Bush: Well, because the trade agreements actually are the only thing that's helping -- or one of the only things helping this economy grow. If you look at the statistics, 40 percent of the economic growth that occurred over the past year is as a result of exports. In other words, we've had problems at home. The housing market has been unbelievably soft. We're worried about consumer demand here at home, but exports have helped, you know, growth. It hasn't been as big as we want, but nevertheless exports have been one of the drivers of economic vitality. And, therefore, it makes sense to have more exports, not less.
Neil Cavuto: But do you worry -- and I know you've mentioned this in prior speeches, Mr. President, that we are turning inward as a nation and that other nations -- there's, what, 100 different trade talks going on, none of which involve the United States? Spell that out for me. What is your fear?
President Bush: I fear that a great nation like the United States is becoming protectionist. That means that we're not opening up markets, that we're turning inward. We'll miss, one, economic opportunity and, two, miss leadership opportunities. I mean, these leaders that I talk to -- and I talk to leaders a lot -- are just, one, amazed and, two, very concerned that the United States is turning inward. You know, people who worry about global poverty, for example -- and I do -- must understand that the best way to help people come out of poverty is for there to be economic vitality. And the best way to create economic vitality is for there to be trade of goods and services. And, you know, I hear people say, "Well, I'm for free trade. I just want it to be fair trade." Well, if Colombia's goods and services come, as a result of the acts of Congress, many of whom are now opposing this bill, they have said, "Let their goods and services come in duty-free." And all I'm saying is, if you let Colombia's goods come in duty-free, you owe the same thing to American job-creators and American workers.
Neil Cavuto: Would you -- you mentioned President Clinton in your remarks today, sir. Would you ever invite him to say, "Look, I'm having trouble pitching trade"?
President Bush: Yes, I would.
Neil Cavuto: Would you say, "Help me out on this"?
President Bush: You know, I've invited a lot of his friends to do that. Mack McLarty, for example, is a very strong supporter of trade with Colombia. And, yes, I would. Now, obviously, he's got an issue because his wife is running for president. I fully understand that. But when asked to comment about the trade agreements he negotiated or got passed with Congress in Congress when he was president, he stood strong on it, because he understands trade is in the economic interests of the country. And I would ask him. And I'd ask anybody who understands the importance of this issue to step up and speak clearly. And they have. They have. There's been a lot of former Democrat administrative officials -- administration officials who've stood up and spoken clearly about the issue.
Neil Cavuto: Would you ask him why his wife changed her mind?
President Bush: No, the voters do that. The voters get to do that.
Neil Cavuto: So, finally, generally, I want to speak about others making a big deal of this today, prominent presidential candidates, including Barack Obama, today saying that these kind of trade agreements hurt workers.
President Bush: Yes.
Neil Cavuto: Do you argue that that has any juice to it?
President Bush: Any time it would make it easier to sell a product overseas, it helps workers. If you're working in a company where it's more likely that that tractor you've made is going to be sold because it costs less, you're more likely to keep your job. It helps workers. People who work for companies that export make more money. Exports have helped keep people at work. I strongly disagree with protectionism, and it's not in the country's interests. And it would be a mistake for the United States to become a protectionist country.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
Head to Head: Free Trade Debate
Dagen McDowell: Democrats are playing politics with our economy! President Bush telling that to our Neil Cavuto in an exclusive chat. The president warning that the Dems holding up free trade will backfire. But, is he right? Let's go “Head to Head” to find out.
Charles Payne: The president is absolutely right! This is amazing. Just as the world is catching fire, all these countries around the world, particularly formerly communist countries like Russia and China… they all get it! It's about free trade. This whole notion that we are protecting foreign workers is a lie; it's disingenuous. We need to open up free trade. It provides more money for people living in America. It helps the spread of Democracy, which is what we want.
Dagen McDowell: What do you have to say, Julia?
Julia Piscitelli-Valentine: It's outrageous to believe it doesn't hurt workers. It's sweat-shop conditions in Colombia. There have been 2,300 murders of labor leaders. You cannot be part of organized labor down there without putting your health, life, family at risk for kidnapping or torture.
Charles Payne: Julia, what's the number of people who can be murdered before you think it's good? Let's talk about the people over there that get benefits: The hundreds of Colombians, the millions of Americans… I think you are being disingenuous.
Julia Piscitelli-Valentine: So you are willing to sacrifice 2,300 people for jobs down there? That is incredible.
Ben Ferguson: She's talking about people who have already died. So how is this free trade? She's acting like people are going to die because of this free trade agreement. They already have their services come in to America without tariffs. The only thing this is going to change is we are now going to be exporting to that country without costing people $2 million a day in tariffs. If anything, this is going to help the people that don't have money, that are under suppression from this government, and all the things you are talking about because they are going to have better goods at a cheaper price. How do you not want these people to do that?
Dagen McDowell: I want to get Chris in here. Chris, I want to look at the broad impact of what Congress did with this one Colombian free trade deal, and the message it sends to the rest of the world that we are trying to isolate ourselves.
Chris Kofinis: I think there are two ways to look at it. In terms of the policy and the specifics of the Colombian trade deal, the major opposition by Democrats, union groups, and other folks in the country has to do with a lack of enforceable labor standards and environmental standards. It's kind of a cheap shot, and an easy thing to say that somehow Democrats are anti-trade or protectionist. It has nothing to do with that. It has to do with fair trade and pursuing a trade deal that protects American workers and maximizes the benefits for all parties.
Ben Ferguson: How is this deal any different from the deal with Peru or Chile? There are no differences.
Chris Kofinis: That's not true.
Ben Ferguson: How is it not true?
Chris Kofinis: The Peru trade deal has labor standards. That is the fundamental point of contention and is a key issue. When you are talking about thousands of people who are trying to organize in Colombia getting killed… it is the number one country for labor activists getting killed. That is a huge problem. And the notion of ignoring that, I think, is completely unfair and ridiculous.
Dagen McDowell: I want to bring it back to the United States. Colombia is extraditing 14 paramilitary officials, who were in jail, back to the United States. So doing something to get rid of these worries… what about the United States? What does it do to jobs if we don't get this through? What about other trade deals?
Charles Payne: Listen, here's the big deal: We are going down a slippery slope. There is a lot of finger-pointing in this election. Big business is the evil, bad guy. Foreign businesses are bad. China is bad. Wal-Mart is bad. We start to erect these barriers. We have a quarter-million businesses in America that export things. You heard President Bush say how incredible exports have been. Imagine where this economy would be in the past year if not for exports.
Dagen McDowell: Let Julia respond to that. Julia, 40 percent growth coming from exports last year.
Julia Piscitelli-Valentine: We are looking at GDP addition to this country from trade with Colombia at less than half of 1 percent. We already have trade with Colombia. What we're talking about now is tariffs. We have been able to institute various protections for workers in other countries, but, we are not able to do here.
Ben Ferguson: I want to clarify this.
Dagen McDowell: Final word.
Ben Ferguson: The same workers rights that are in the deal with Peru are in this bill with Colombia. So what was said earlier about that not being the case is a lie. That's it!
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FOX on the Spot
Ben Ferguson: Mitt Romney Will Be John McCain's Vice President!
Chris Kofinis: Obama Wins Dem Nom; Won't Pick Clinton as His VP
David Nelson: Get Dirty with the Military; Buy KOL & See 40 percent in 2 Yrs
Pat Powell: Dow Hits 2007 Highs by the Election; Buy "DIA "!
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Dagen McDowell: Blockbuster Summer for Movies thanks to Gas Prices!
Forbes on FOX
Flipside: Suing Opec Will Send Gas Prices Even Higher!
Mike Ozanian, National Editor: If we sue OPEC it's going to backfire on us. OPEC could force oil to be priced in euros instead of dollars. That would crush our economy. They have a big chunk of the oil, it's their game. What we need to do here is build more refineries and drill for more oil. That's the way to teach OPEC a lesson.
Elizabeth MacDonald, FOX Business Network: I know this is a pipe dream and they could cut production or dump our dollar. But I am all for sending our lawyers to go after these guys. Let's sue OPEC! It may be a nice distraction for our oil companies who are facing shareholder lawsuits. We have cartel anti-trust actions in the vitamin industry, the elevator industry, the glass making industry. Why not go after these companies for once. I would love to see these guys take the witness stand.
Jack Gage, Associate Editor: Liz, that is not like you supporting tort. This is a huge disaster. It is going to drive prices higher. Here's a better idea. Divide the world into three parts, OPEC; the non-OPEC producers like Mexico, the U.K., Russia and Canada; and then the importers like Japan, U.S., China, India, the E.U. Those two parts compete for OPEC's business and that drives prices lower. Competition saves the day again.
Neil Weinberg, Senior Editor: I say sue the bums and here's why. It is our law. When we have these meetings in Vienna, they are called OPEC meetings. What they really are is price fixing meetings. If we had that meeting here in the U.S. the FBI would cart you away. Let's sue China and Venezuela as well. They keep their prices for gas artificially low which increases the demand. It is a ridiculous situation and we should take everyone to court.
Quentin Hardy, Silicon Valley Bureau Chief: You're looking for someone to blame for what the markets are doing. OPEC didn't say $130 at the beginning of the week and $135 later in the week. The markets did it. OPEC didn't send the dollar down. That was America's folly. What we should do is try and join OPEC, try and get closer to them, help their supply constraints in Iran, Iraq, in Venezuela. That's where you can get the biggest bang for your buck.
Steve Forbes, Editor-in-Chief: As for joining OPEC, that's the Obama way. Talk to them and they will love us. If you really want to get oil prices down then strengthen the dollar. We did that to ourselves. We weakened the dollar. It's the biggest shortcoming of George Bush.
In Focus: Will This Holiday Weekend Drive Us Away From a Recession?
Neil Weinberg: Our economy and our consumers are very flexible. The biggest worry people have right now is gas prices. We only spend about 3 percent of our disposable income on gas prices. It's not that big of a deal. People will adapt. They will go to places closer to home. They'll go to the closest malls and spend money there.
Steve Forbes: Sadly I think the economy is going to remain in neutral. Once the dollar is bolstered, once the President or the Fed gets around to it, we'll see the financial markets and the economy roar ahead.
Victoria Barret, Associate Editor: I think we're going to see more of the same, except it's going to be warmer outside. Oil prices are a big problem not only for consumers but for businesses. Since oil prices have spiked so unpredictably businesses can't plan. Airlines have cut flights, Ford said this week that they're going to cut production. It's scary stuff when businesses can't plan.
Quentin Hardy: The cost of summer has gone up. Higher food prices have driven up the prices of hotdogs and corn and higher gas prices have made it more expensive to drive.
John Rutledge, Forbes Contributor: I don't think retail is the issue. People are still going to go to their bar-b-ques. There's no recession. There will be no negative quarters. The second half will be a little bit better. Business loans are still rising. This is a capital markets issue not a recession issue. The bond market is beginning to trade, the mortgage market it beginning to thaw out a bit. And the stock market is starting to come back. The real question here is tax rates.
Mike Ozanian: This weekend is going to show that the economy is getting weaker. Consumer spending is 2/3 of GDP. Retailers are getting killed. And for the first time we're starting to see incomes grow more slowly than inflation.
Generation X: Whiners or Hardest-Working Generation?
Evelyn Rusli, Forbes.com Anchor: My generation has more resources today but our futures won't be handed to us on silver platters. Social Security is getting more expensive and Gen X and every generation after is going to have to work more and pay up more. Our Social Security system will probably be bankrupt by 2030.
John Rutledge: I've got 5 Gen X-ers in my family and they're having a great time. They are the best educated generation in the world, they've got the best pay. They don't have to lift anything heavy because they all work in the service sector. They are going to inherit the largest stockpile of wealth ever assembled, if the death tax doesn't take it first. They just have to remember to work, save, take care of their tools and don't spend the money. They'll be ok.
Lacey Rose, Forbes.com Senior Reporter: We have a different hardship tale to tell. It's not going to be about the heavy lifting but about the 100-hour work-week. We're the Blackberry generation. As globalization continues and the competition gets that much more fierce, we're really going to have to work that much harder.
Steve Forbes: Gen X is going to have unparallel opportunities. They are going to work hard but they are going to have more tools than ever before. As for Social Security, they will finally get around to reforming it with private accounts. That would solve the Social Security crisis and turn a liability into an asset.
Victoria Barret: I don't think we're working all that much harder but we have to be smarter about how we work. There is no such thing as job security guarantees. And we are going to pay for reckless spending and shortsighted planning that has plagued our system.
Informer: $ummer $izzler$
Neil Weinberg: Honda Motors (HMC)
Evelyn Rusli: Walt Disney (DIS)
Mike Ozanian: Newfield Exploration (NFX)
Jack Gage: Callaway Golf (ELY)
Stock Smarts: Big Oil or Congress; Which Is to Blame for High Gas Prices?
Tracy Byrnes, FOX Business Network: The hearings this week were reminiscent of the baseball steroid hearings. Congress has to look in the mirror. We have supply issues, we have demand issues, we have speculators in the market and we have a Democratic congress that is doing nothing. Crude is up 36 percent just from the beginning of the year!
Jonathan Hoenig, Capitalistpig.com: The big oil companies don't control the price of crude oil. In fact they only hold about 6 percent of the world reserves. If you want to blame somebody, blame the Middle East or blame the green movement.
Wayne Rogers, Wayne Rogers & Co: You have to blame the congress. If you go back to Jimmy Carter's speech in 1979 it could have been made last week. He asked at that time that we should get away from our dependence on foreign oil. The Congress has done nothing since then.
Julian Epstein, Democratic Strategist: Oil prices are getting close to $4 per gallon. Every time gas prices go up, oil company's profits skyrocket. $37 billion in the first quarter. Why is that? According to the Department of Energy we really don't have a supply problem. We may have a refinery issue but it's on the margins. There are two things that distort the market. First, OPEC producing countries set prices artificially high. Secondly, the reason that oil prices are so high is because of the futures market. This is an unregulated market that the oil companies and investors can manipulate to drive prices higher.
Jonas Max Ferris, Maxfunds.com: If I had to blame oil companies or Congress I would blame oil companies. But they are in the oil business and their job is to sell oil at the highest price possible.
Obama's “Eat and Drive Less” Message: Economy Killer?
Jonathan Hoenig: People should drive as much as they can afford. Obama's whole message is about self-sacrifice. This is America, we can make our own choices.
Tracy Byrnes: I'm going to drive my truck because it snows where I live and I'm going to keep my home at 72 degrees because I have kids at home. Obama's not even in office yet and he's cutting himself off at the knees. He's projecting hopelessness and that's not what you want to hear from a future President.
Wayne Rogers: I couldn't disagree more. I think what Obama is saying is that we will become a third-world country if we're not careful. You can't just continually expend natural resources and expect the planet not to fight back. It's not a question of government regulation. It's a question of self-interest and the market will regulate this for us. You have to have some sort of self restraint to enjoy freedom.
Jonas Max Ferris: It's our own behavior that makes us drive a gas guzzling SUV. Ultimately it's our fault. I admire that a politician brave enough to tell us that we're the reason the prices are going up every single day.
Did We Just Get a Sign to Start Buying Homes?
Brandie Malay, HGTV's “Hidden Potential”: I'm definitely seeing a turn-around. I'm seeing a shrinking mentality between the seller's mentality and the buyer's mentality. I see a light at the end of the tunnel. Probably in about 12 months.
Tracy Byrnes: The problem is with the people who sell mortgages. The buyers and sellers are starting to come again. I think there is a psychology in the market that is changing. For a while it was people holding off until the Fed stopped cutting rates. Then it was people waiting for better deals as home prices fell. I think we're almost done with this.
Jonas Max Ferris: It's not really over until the bubble logic leaves the market; the mentality that if you put $1,000 into your house it will be worth an extra $1,500. Somehow magically you can create more money than you put into it. Until the bubble think is gone, it's not over.
Wayne Rogers: I do not see this ending anytime soon. There are some places that you can smell a new beginning. Housing sales are down still, it's going to continue for a while. We've still probably got a year to 18 months before we see a bottom.
Jonathan Hoenig: In my world, markets don't decline 20-30 percent and then just race back up again. Even if housing and real estate have stopped falling, it doesn't mean that it's a bull market again. And I think you want to focus your dollars in bull markets.
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