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Bulls & Bears
Slew of Amendments Threaten to Spike Cost of $856 Billion Health Plan
Tobin Smith, ChangeWave Research: We can't afford this. Private health care has about a 3 percent profit margin as a whole. The public plan is supposed to cost about 10 percent less, supposedly to keep health insurance companies honest because they've been ripping people off. Where's this difference going to be made up? This will turn into a Medicare-type system. The cost of this public-option has ballooned and will really end up costing somewhere in the $2 trillion range.
Marc Lamont Hill, Columbia University: We can afford this. I'm not one of those people on the left who says this program will essentially be free, or will make a lot of money. It will certainly cost a significant amount of money. But it'll be manageable. Some of it will be an increase in efficiencies. But if we can get a slight tax hike, and reassess and reorganize our health care sector, we can afford this reform.
Gary B. Smith, TheChartman.com: Here's what I don't understand. Look at a state that has universal coverage like Massachusetts. They already have rationing taking place. Wait times have doubled for a lot of specialties like OBGYN. They are 30 percent over budget. They have to raise taxes on alcohol, tobacco, and other products. Premiums in the state are rising 30 percent faster than the national average. So if these are the sorts of things that take place when you create national health care, nobody is going to want it.
Pat Dorsey, Morningstar.com: My main issue with the health care debate is putting coverage first, and cost savings second. It has to be the other way around, since our current system is so untenable. This is a trajectory that will eventually bankrupt the country. Until we get serious about savings, through tort reform, connecting consumers with actually paying for coverage, etc. nothing will change. We have to address the fundamental structural issues of the health care industry first.
Eric Bolling, FOX Business Network: If this public option passes, I think we'll see it end up costing far more than its projected $856 billion price tag. Of the industries the government runs, like Amtrak, the Post Office, the DMV, etc. how many are actually run well and make money? Payments to doctors are going to be cut, so who's going to want to provide extensive services to people that are getting covered by the government?
Anti-Capitalism Protests; We Asked for This?
Gary B. Smith: We asked for this. I still maintain the belief that President Obama is the most anti-capitalistic, anti-business president we've ever had. Three weeks after he took office, he said only government has the resources to jolt our economy. He thinks the government can teach the private sector lessons in efficiency. He has talked about how doctors have a businessman's mentality, or that investors in Chrysler were greedy and refused to sacrifice. In his cabinet, he doesn't have one true entrepreneur or business person. It's all academics and politicians who just don't understand business and have contempt for it.
Marc Lamont Hill: You don't need President Obama to see that global capitalism is having problems. You don't need to watch a press conference to know the poorest people in the world are suffering. You can look at a lack of universal health care, lack of living wages, sweatshop labor, all these problems that need to be fixed. These protesters at the G-20 in Pittsburgh aren't critiquing capitalism—they're critiquing unfettered capitalism.
Tobin Smith: In terms of pure math, the most successful system right now is China. I don't see any of these protesters rallying against China's economic system and about the one billion Chinese citizens who are still earning a dollar a day. Whenever you have a major recession, capitalism comes open to shots against it.
Eric Bolling: These protesters should be celebrating. Capitalism is dying. Look what's going on here. We have a President who wants free health care, to subsidize homes, give you money to guy cars cheaper. This is not free market economics. Capitalism continues to be chipped away at in this country. These G-20 protesters should be lighting fireworks.
Pat Dorsey: Capitalism is the worst economic system in the world—except for everything else we've tried. Yes, it's flawed and problematic, but we haven't figured out a better way to structure an economic system. You can blame a lot of people for a lot of mistakes that led to this recession—keeping interest rates too low for too long, overemphasizing home ownership, etc. But the basic flaw isn't within capitalism itself.
$529 Million Government Loan Helps Gore-Backed Company Build Hybrid Cars in Finland; Green Agenda Gone Wild?
Eric Bolling: This already stinks since Al Gore is behind it and he'll probably make a lot of money off of it. Of the $529 million, $170 million is for a plant in Detroit, which probably means it's going to the UAW. This money is being spent on developing an $89,000 car — how many people can actually afford that?
Marc Lamont Hill: You're fostering investment, risk and creativity. Most of the money will come to the United States. It's a good idea. I don't like the fact it's a $90,000 car, but it's a step in the right direction.
Gary B. Smith: Most people are never going to be able to afford this car. It's all part of this $80 billion green energy policy the government is trying like it did back in the 1970s. One of these days I hope the government will learn it cannot determine the direction of the market. People want an $89,000 car, that's fine — let a company start it up without government assistance.
Pat Dorsey: I don't see a problem with the fact it's an expensive car. These technologies often start in niche markets, and the price eventually comes down. But I don't think this needs public funding. Toyota was able to come up with the Prius, many people have bought it, and it didn't get a major public subsidy. I think the hope is that this technology will eventually become mass market — and that's not something we need to freak out about.
Tobin Smith: The problem is we're doing all this ass-backwards. If in theory a bunch of these cars we sold, we don't have an adequate power grid to keep up with electricity demand. What we need to be doing is investing money in developing our country's power grid to really tap into and adapt to green energy demands.
Gary B. Smith: Iran's secret nukes no threat! "RTN" launches 50 percent in 1 year
Tobin Smith: America loves plush TP! "PG" wipes up 30 percent by spring
Pat Dorsey: Smoke 'em if you got 'em! "MO" ignites 40 percent in 1 year
Eric Bolling: Delay won't dance to victory! Tango with "ACH"; up 50 percent in 1 year
Cavuto on Business
CBO Says Health Care Bill Will Cut Medicare Benefits: More Surprises?
Charles Payne, WStreet.com: I'll be surprised if there aren't other surprises. What's really concerning is how we're going to pay for this, not to mention the considerable cutbacks to Medicare advantage. That obviously has a lot of seniors up in arms. And there's a potential for Congress to renege on the deal the White House made with the drug companies. That could easily fall apart.
Ben Stein: This president seems to have very little regard for the truth. President Obama said health care reform wouldn't affect the deficit, and that was a lie. He said he was going to cut waste from the budget line by line, and that was a lie. And the thing that really bothers me is Senator Baucus investigating Humana because they've dared to criticize the health bill. It's an attack on the first amendment, and this is very, very serious.
Leigh Gallagher, Fortune Magazine: This current bill is far from the final product. They're considering over 500 amendments alone over the coming days. Any employer that doesn't provide insurance has to pay the government a subsidy so the government can cover that worker. So any employer will have to pay considerably more for, say, a low income, single mother, rather than a potential employee who has a spouse and is covered by their partner's health insurance policy. It really could discourage companies from hiring single, low income workers.
Adam Lashinsky: Not all parts of this bill are bad. One part creates an exchange to provide for high deductible young people. This is smart. Get people who don't want health insurance into the program, but they have to pay very little to get covered. Also, the bill cuts out co-payments in an exchange for preventative health care. Don't make people pay out of their pocket. Remove disincentives to go get checked up. We're looking at this bill line-by-line to figure out the best parts that should be in the final bill.
Biden: "Never Thought Stimulus Would Work This Well"; Is It?
Ben Stein: Vice President Joe Biden's claim is interesting considering the amount of money that has been pushed into the economy by the stimulus. It's about half a percent of total consumer spending. Biden is a loyal servant, but I don't know where he's getting his data. Is he loyal to his boss? Yes. But loyalty to the truth I guess is asking too much. We shouldn't be spending money on all these projects that we really don't need.
Charles Payne: Coming out of a recession is all apart of the business cycle. In karate movies, Biden's move is called the drunken monkey. He says something he's not supposed to say, but it's a compliment on the program. But the reality is that the administration should not be taking victory laps regarding the stimulus. If you look at the money scheduled to be dolled out, much of it will come shortly before the 2010 elections.
Leigh Gallagher: Escalating unemployment numbers are low-hanging fruit for people to say the stimulus isn't working, but economists agree it hasn't blunted the effects of the downturn. It is hard to say what would have happened otherwise. Jobs and infrastructure are starting to get off the ground. But it's less than some people initially hoped.
Adam Lashinsky: This whole program is just government spending. You can drive down the highway and see signs saying this latest construction is courtesy of the stimulus. There's a lithium battery company that is getting a lot of stimulus dollars and is going to spend the money to further develop and expand the product. It remains to be seen if this stimulus spending is a good or bad idea.
House Extends Unemployment Benefits for 13 Extra Weeks; When Will Handouts End?
Charles Payne: We're becoming the land of never ending handouts. Everyone feels bad for people who aren't working, but we have to stop this march toward a bigger welfare state. We can't fall prey to it. It you're unemployed, you can't wait around for the state to take care of you. If you aren't looking for a job every day, you're going to be sucked in.
Leigh Gallagher: High unemployment is the single thing that distinguishes this recession from any other. If we don't continue to help people from falling into poverty, that'll have a far more harmful effect on the economy. Employers are going to add back work hours before hiring new people. It's desperate times for too many people, and they need this assistance.
Ben Stein: You cannot allow people who are unemployed to sink into poverty. On the other hand, if people don't get unemployment insurance, instead of demanding a $15 an hour job, they'd accept a $9 an hour job. Part of the problem with unemployment is that people won't accept a lower paying job. It prolongs downward business cycles. But compassion rightly demands we help out people who are in serious trouble.
Adam Lashinksy: We have too many ad hoc programs that are handouts and temporary measures because someone in government was trying to think of something that might help people. However, some of these economic assistance programs, like the Fed buying mortgage-backed securities, are starting to be phased out. The government does know how to roll back certain programs.
Stocks Handing Out Never-Ending Profits?
Chares Payne: Weatherford Int'l (WFT)
Adam Lashinsky: Abbott Labs (ABT)
Ben Stein: iShares Emerging Mkts (EEM)
Forbes on FOX
On Saturday, September 26, 2009, David Asman was joined by Steve Forbes, Neil Weinberg, Mike Ozanian, Quentin Hardy, Jack Gage, Evelyn Rusli, Mike Maiello, and Elizabeth MacDonald.
In Focus: Is Real Crisis Out-of-Control Government Spending?
David Asman: Financial "crisis". Health care "crisis". Global warming "crisis". The President keeps using that word to sell big government "solutions." But someone here says there's only one crisis in America he should be focusing on - big government spending!
Steve Forbes: Well, it certainly feeds the big crisis of the weak dollar. People fear the Federal Reserve will print the money, which it's already started to do by buying long term treasury securities. That leads to inflation which leads to a weak economy and this spending binge – who would imagine George Bush looking like scrooge – before the spending tsunami of Medicare, Medicaid and Social Security. We're headed for a cliff.
Mike Maiello: There is one crisis. It's not a spending crisis. It's a priority crisis. I can tell you one thing we need to spend more on right away. You have people falling off the unemployment rolls now because unemployment benefits aren't available long enough for people to find jobs because we are not creating jobs. Right now we should expand unemployment benefits. There is some spending we need. We need to prioritize the needs of real people.
Jack Gage: Mike, I have to disagree. I think spending is the big problem here. You don't have just huge budget deficits at the moment as well as public debt outstanding. You also have estimates growing. Every three months trillions of dollars are being added to what the estimates are 10 years out – upwards of $17.5 trillion for our public debt or 75 percent of GDP. These are problems that hit consumers, taxpayers, and savers where it hurts the most and it has to be brought back under control. Programs like overhauling Medicare right now and looking at global warming and solving that – they are just not things we can do right now.
Quentin Hardy: What we need to spend here is a moment thinking of how we got such a big deficit and only 7-10 percent of it is Obama. The rest is Bush's crazy war in Iraq, misguided financial system, and things like the Medicare drug spending bill. Obama inherited this crisis. He's doing his best. If you like the review of how to do this, on Friday Barney Frank said he'll back Ron Paul's investigation of the Federal Reserve and how they spend their money. We got to get our arms around this spending but it's not what Obama is doing. It's what happened beforehand.
Elizabeth MacDonald: It does surpass Bush's spending. Bush unfortunately did spend a lot of money and I like what Steve has always said. The government has been spending like drunken sailors and that's kind of an insult to sailors. We have fallen through the looking glass. I like how the President is saying that he is spending to create or save 3.5 million jobs. I think we hired 25,000 government workers recently. That's the job growth you're seeing. The debt to GDP ratio is around 360 percent when you factor in social security and Medicare, and unfunded liabilities. We are in a serious danger zone right now.
Evelyn Rusli: I don't really think that's true (doubling Bush's domestic spending in the past 6 months). When we look at World War II, we were spending a lot more than we are today in terms of percentages of GDP.
David Asman: We were in a World War.
Evelyn Rusli: At the same time, the growing deficit is a major problem, but it shouldn't be the number one priority today. I think we should be looking at how fragile the economy is today. I don't think that the inflation issues and the growing deficit should be the number one focus. Because if you look at the solution to that, it's tax increases, or clawing back stimulus spending, or sopping up all the liquidity in the credit markets which we don't want to do.
Flipside: Senate Health Care Bill Doesn't Cut Medicare Benefits Enough
David Asman: The shocker of the week in the health care debate - the independent Congressional Budget Office saying that the Democrat's new bill will cut Medicare benefits. Democratic leaders deny it. But Liz says they should be flaunting it. In fact - they should be cutting even more!
Elizabeth MacDonald: They should be cutting even more and look, even the GAO said that Medicare warrants special status as a high risk program because of the waste in the system. We all know that. That's a common theme. The extension of Medicare to cover all sorts of drug costs was a real problem. The Bush administration should never have done that and even the Obama administration is now sending out airstrike forces into Miami where it's known that you can defraud the Medicare program with fees for selling wheelchairs and charging taxpayers for people who have sprains. It is out of control and the administration is getting it right.
Steve Forbes: If they knew how to cut fraud and abuse and the idea that the government can do it is preposterous. There is so much fraud in Medicare and Medicaid and has been for 40 years. What they really want to cut is Medicare Advantage which 9 million people have and people like because it gives them more choice and more flexibility. That's where they are going to cut – not the old program but the one that people like.
Mike Ozanian: Too much mamby-pamby stuff here. Steve is being way too gentle, David. I say get rid of the whole thing. Get rid of Medicare - grandfather in the people that currently get it. Through tax credits and through eliminating taxes on Social Security – allow seniors to buy their own health care in the open market.
Quentin Hardy: I think we need more (Medicare cuts) along these lines. This is a $100 billion "so-called" cut over a period of 10 years by allowing competitive bidding. To call it a cut outright without looking at the advantage you get from that is incoherent. There was this beautiful and interesting poll this week. A majority of people in this country believe that the Republicans are not addressing health care seriously. They are just trying to make political gains. They also think the Democrats need to work with the Republicans. In this environment, it's very hard to see clearly. People need to step back and look at the facts in question.
Neil Weinberg: We need to cut it a lot more. I say a pox on all their houses. Especially a pox on the elderly who think that just growing old is a key to the socialist paradise. They want everything. This Medicare advantage gives them things like health care memberships and dental programs. We have 50 million people with no coverage whatsoever. The Republicans on the other hand are just trying to throw sand in the gears.
David Asman: Hold on. Fifty million people with no coverage – that includes of course 10 million who are illegal immigrants.
Neil Weinberg: That is true. We're talking about people that have no coverage whatsoever and the people who are worried about Medicare Advantage and as Quentin rightly pointed out this $100 billion reduction in the growth yearly are worried about their luxury.
Mike Maiello: Don't listen to Neil grandma. I love you. You worked your whole life for these benefits. You earned them. I believe that and the democrats believe that. These aren't cuts. They're savings. We should save money and we should do that if it can be felt in any of these services offered then it shouldn't be done - even if we have to spend more. We shouldn't cut services. If we can deliver them more efficiently then I'm all for it. Savings not cuts.
Is Cutting Taxes the Best Way to Create Jobs in America Right Now?
David Asman: Sarah Palin speaking out this week and sending a message to President Obama. "If you want real job growth, you cut taxes... on all Americans." and Steve Forbes couldn't agree more.
Steve Forbes: Yes and to those folks out there who don't like her – look at the message not the messenger. This is John Kennedy and Ronald Reagan. When you reduce tax rates and increase incentives, the economy always comes back. More government doesn't work. More power to the American people always works whether Democrat or Republican.
Quentin Hardy: I am sorry Steve but character matters enormously to me and she goes from being the governor of America's biggest welfare state with the highest per capita government spending, doesn't like that job and becomes America's most famous quitter so she can go on Facebook and spread vicious lies about death panels. This woman has no character. She is not a leader. Real leaders take risks and she is just going in for the popular bromides without taking the risks it takes to cut taxes and cut spending.
Jack Gage: If you look at what she is talking about like Steve said it is a message of tax cuts across the board. Let's remember what taxes do. Taxes are a tariff on things like job creation, savings, a lot of things that get our economy moving and try to pull us out of this recession. So right now what she is prescribing is actually a message of pro growth economic policy going forward and I have to tell you she reminds me a lot of another public leader who found himself in the woods once or twice – Winston Churchill who said taxing your way to prosperity is like standing in a bucket and trying to lift yourself by the handles.
Evelyn Rusli: I think it's bad advice. Tax cuts across the board are actually going to be pretty detrimental to the economy if you think about it because we can't really afford it. We just got a debate talking about the how the growing deficit is truly going to hamper the economic recovery. Now we're talking about more tax cuts which actually in a sense hinder growth and the ability of our country to pay back these huge deficits.
David Asman: Tax cuts don't hinder growth. They increase growth. They get people incentivized to work harder. Don't they?
Mike Ozanaian: Absolutely. I'll use my favorite president as an example – Bill Clinton. During his first four years, unemployment averaged 5.5 percent. Then in 1997 he cut the capital gains tax from 28 percent to 20 percent. Unemployment averaged only 4.5 percent and tax revenues from the tax cut surged into the economy.
Informer: Stocks Ready to Pop!
Neil Weinberg: WellPoint (WLP)
Evelyn Rusli: Seagate Technology (STX)
Mike Ozanian: Huntsman Corp (HUN)
Jack Gage: Moody's (MCO)
Health Care Fight Delaying "Climate" Bill: Good for Economy?
Tracy Byrnes, FOX Business Network: The economy doesn't want to hear we are going to spend more money and dip into the coffers that much more. We can not afford it. The studies differ on how much it will eat away at GDP but the fact that it's going to eat any GDP away at all is something we should we be concerned about. Regardless of the size it will hit the middle class the hardest, the group of people that President Obama said he would try to help the most. Senator Harry Reid said I don't want to deal with this so let's go with that.
Howard Gould, The Clean Energy Network: It will be back up. In the next two months we have the largest climate meeting in history so it needs to be addressed. It should have been addressed years ago. The rest of the world addressed it except during the Bush administration it was definitely put on the back burner. So we have two months to talk about this and we shall have had years.
Jonathan Hoenig, CapitalistPig Asset Management: That is exactly what it is. Honestly, what is the source of man's wealth? Where does wealth and productivity come from in doesn't come from a meeting in Copenhagen. It comes from man's mind, freedom, liberty, a free market. That is what both these initiatives, climate change and healthcare reform, both seek to destroy. The climate initiatives are a tax on productivity. Whatever form it takes, cap and trade or whatnot, the idea is to make it more expensive to use the Earth.
Jonas Max Ferris, MaxFunds.com: It is expense sieve being clean. The bottom line is I waste money and time driving to the dump taking my garbage. It would be better to burn it in my back yard and better for the economy. It is not better long haul for the economy if everybody burns their garbage in the back yard ruining the air, destroying the town, ruining property prices. Those effects you see later. In the short run environmental policy is costly to the economy. Doesn't are to be costly to government because they can do it with taxes but it makes the economy better. And to counter your point the world has already done this. They are polluting cesspools although they grow faster. In the long run it will bite them.
Jim LaCamp, MacroPortfolio Advisors: Washington has come up with some stupid ideas, but this is the stupidest one. The argument isn't do we want a cleaner economy. Of course we do. The argument should be how do we do that and cap and trade is a dumb way. These taxes are going to be passed directly to consumers. It hurts middle and lower income more than anybody else. This $140 figure you came up with is the most conservative figure anybody has come up with. Nearly every other study has that figure significantly higher and in Britain right now they are paying $1,300 per year per citizens for their environmental changes. Secondly, when the taxes hit the lower and middle income people that is a bigger part of their budget. It is devastating regressive tax. Thirdly, it makes businesses not competitive on a global scale. It is the dumbest bill we've come up with yet.
Report: Workers Leaving USA; End of "Land Of Opportunity"?
Jonathan Hoenig: This is the greatest country in the history of mankind. But what made us so prosperous was not Mount Rushmore or the Grand Canyon but our commitment to free market capitalism. It made us unique and the country's philosophy, not their natural resources determines how successful they are. So, the harder the government makes it to hire people, to do business, more regulations, more taxes they put on businesses, of course, they are going to look other places.
Tracy Byrnes: I was thinking this weekend that I will pick up my kids, move to India because there are a lot of opportunity. Dirty water, they will get over it. That extra arm, it will be ok. Jonathan, this is nuts. Capitalism will reign supreme. It is a little messed up, but we have a bunch of nutty leaders making decisions we don't want to have them make but capitalism will rule supreme. You see it in the tea parties an outrage. Entrepreneurial spirit is still here. Brainiacs are creating the next discrimination of something.
Jonas Max Ferris: We are not offering a friendly environment to well bred entrepreneurs who want to come here. We have an asinine program where we're so worried with Mexicans coming across the border, we're keeping out Indians that could work with the valley. America is still a null one. If you read about a success story, it is 90 percent of the time an American company. But we have stopped letting people come to America easily and you won't have it. So you have to liberalize the immigration for a certain kind of worker.
Jim LaCamp: This is the best country in the world. We have the best infrastructure, the best turnaround of living and we do have the best jobs. However, there are less and less of them. The problem is we are not that competitive on a global scale. We have the second highest corporate tax rate in the world so a lot of corporations have moved overseas. Sarbanes Oxley is a good example. Companies started listing IPOs overseas when we did Sarbanes Oxley. We don't have a pro business trend to the government.
Howard Gould: I still think we will see a rebound in this economy and spurred on by clone tech and the same thing in the dot com area will be here. The best is yet to come.
Hollywood Celebs Bash Health Insurance Executives: Hypocrisy?
Jim LaCamp: I thought "Talladega Nights" was funny but it is even funnier watching him way in on economics. Most of these actors don't have college degrees, a lot of them don't have high school degrees. They go from waiting tables to making millions of dollars and those dollars were furnished by people on Wall Street, by investment dollars, investment bankers and they now need to be attack because it's "the greedy big guy going after the little guy." It is a joke if we listen to them or any of them are asked to weigh in on anything other than their acting skills.
Howard Gould: This thing went crazy on the internet because it is funny. He is a comedian. The fact that he makes $20 million is irrelevant. It's like comparing apples and oranges. You can't fault him because he is successful at what he does.
Jonas Max Ferris: You can't fault an insurance executive for being good at what he does. They make a joke about the mini zoos. A lot of entertainers have little zoos. Michael Jackson had one because he makes $20 million to $30 million a year and it is ok in the entertainment business but not healthcare business? If they could prove that this profit made by the executives is totally adding to healthcare costs, and the government plan somehow passes it on to people they have a case.
Tracy Byrnes: Will Farrell's video with this 2-year-old banging on the door asking for rent also got 2 million hits on the Internet. People tune in to see what they came up with. I'm not sure people listen to these actors and make decisions based on what they have to say.
Jonathan Hoenig: When Will Farrell makes money it's because he works for it. But when the insurance company executive makes it is because they are nefarious. Not only was this video not funny, this video was ill informed. He talks about we need competition. We do need competition. That is why we need to get rid of the regulations in health insurance and health care. Even now public option government accounts for half of all health care spending in this country. You think by making it 100 percent it will bring costs down?
What I Need to Know for Next Week
Tracy Byrnes: A survey was done, one I have to admit I didn't participate in. It showed eight out of 10 women have sex with their husbands so they can get house work done around the house. We lmulti-task." This is making perfect sense to me. She wants something done, and she knows how to get it. This how she does it. And I bet they have clean lawns. So men, no need for fancy dinners!
Jonas Max Ferris: I do all the house work and there is a reason for that! Listen, Nobody dislikes Medicare because everyone is hollering about the "potential government health care" and we just had a bill go through where the house voted and Republicans unanimously, because they don't want to raise the Medicare premium even though the plan is under funded and they would rather pass it on to general taxpayer revenue. Young people like me will never get it because it will be bankrupt later. But it will go through and the bottom line is this is good for the drug industry because no one wants to cut back the consumption of hesitate care. Spider Pharmaceuticals (XPH), they will benefit whether private or public.
Jonathan Hoenig: Chicago is a city on edge because next Friday we will find out if Chicago will host the 2016 Olympics. The mayor, even the president has put a lot of capital into this. Watch Hyde Park real estate. It's going to boom if this happens.
Jim LaCamp: You will want to watch Google and Apple. Research in motion disappointed. We have seen other leaders start to fade. This could be an indicator of a September/October correction.