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Bulls & Bears
On Saturday November 28, Elizabeth McDonald was in for Brenda Buttner. Elizabeth was joined by Gary B. Smith, Tobin Smith, Pat Dorsey, Matt McCall and Regina Calcaterra.
Pelosi: OK to Create More Debt to Create Jobs; Really?
Gary B. Smith, TheChartman.com: Nancy Pelosi has this completely backwards. Have the U.S. consumer spend money to create more jobs, don't increase the deficit. The government cannot create jobs. If that was possible, we'd have zero unemployment. Instead, she wants to rob Peter to pay Paul. We had a $700 billion plus stimulus package that has supposedly created 600,000 jobs, many of which were probably reported wrong anyway. If the government had just given significant tax breaks to people, allowing folks to go out and spend money at a local restaurant, buying a new TV, etc. that would have done far more to create jobs long-term.
Regina Calcaterra, Democratic strategist: We've only spent about one-third of the stimulus so far. We know it hasn't generated the number of jobs we wanted to create with it. Of the $2 trillion in tax revenue the federal government receives, only about 45 percent is from income taxes. Giving income tax cuts isn't going to do enough to create jobs, or generate new tax revenue. So we have to spend money to make money.
Matt McCall, Penn Financial Group: The government doesn't have to spend more to create jobs. And the supposed jobs it has created with the stimulus are unsustainable and not long-term. We haven't spent most of the first stimulus Congress passed. Yet people want to keep increasing the nation's debt with ineffective plans. You want to create jobs and decrease the deficit? Cut taxes for small business owners.
Tobin Smith, ChangeWave Research: If my only job was to get re-elected to office, I'd absolutely be saying we should spend more. But we keep getting into this failed idea that the government can effectively create jobs. The best way to create jobs is giving incentive to entrepreneurs to spend capitol and create commerce. Any plan presented by the government basically amounts to a transfer of wealth.
Pat Dorsey, Morningstar.com: We need to bear in mind that the U.S. is not Argentina. I certainly don't like where the deficit is right now. But Japan has run government debt at twice the level we have for the past decade—and inflation and interest rates haven't been a problem. We can't automatically link high debt to high inflation. However, the path we're on long-term is unsustainable.
Dubai Money Disaster Will Kill Government-Run Care in USA?
Matt McCall: The situation in Dubai really shines a light on the high levels of debt so many countries have brought on, and this includes the United States. If the U.S. continues to take on huge levels of debt, other countries are going to start wondering if they're going to get their money back. What if we reach the point where potential buyers of U.S. debt aren't interested any more unless we significantly raise interest rates? There are very negative consequences to adding on to debt levels.
Tobin Smith: I love the idea that some people are equating health care reform legislation to creating a huge snow world inside at hotel in Dubai. But I'd ask people to take notice to the size of Dubai's GDP, which is about the size of Hawaii's. From an economic standpoint, I don't think we can equate what's going on in Dubai with what could happen here in the U.S. in regards to debt levels and health care reform.
Gary B. Smith: This isn't about the gross size of Dubai's economy, which is relatively small, it's about the percentage size of their debt in relation to GDP. Dubai had about the highest debt to GDP level in the world. Fortunately, the U.S. is lower, but the lesson to be learned here is what happens when a country totally overextends itself. If you keep pushing the envelope, that's when you run into major problems long-term.
Regina Calcaterra: To say we shouldn't have health care reform based on what's taking place is Dubai is a ridiculous comparison. Health care reform would cost on average $80 billion a year over t10 years. It's a drop of water in the ocean. What happens in Dubai isn't something that's going to affect the U.S.'s long-term deficits. Dubai's economy is based on tourism and real-estate. What happened there and what's taking place in the U.S. isn't comparable.
Pat Dorsey: What we're missing here is the country's revenue base. The revenue base of Dubai is based in tourism and real-estate development. If you build a huge building which no one wants to live in, you can't take it back. You'll have a lot of debt on your hands. The country's getting hit especially hard because citizens don't pay income taxes. So the economic circumstances in Dubai aren't particularly comparable with the U.S. However, again I believe the U.S. is on its own unsustainable long-term economic path.
'Climategate' and U.S. Companies Will Stop Green Agenda?
Tobin Smith: Look at companies like AT&T, Verizon, and FedEx who are switching their vehicle fleets over to natural gas. They're doing it for economic reasons. They can operate much more cost effectively by using natural gas. It's a great example that if you let companies fight global warming the old-fashioned way, which is let the free market fix inefficiencies, everybody wins.
Regina Calcaterra: I'm actually not a big fan of the cap and trade legislation. There are actually a lot of companies and countries that are independently making sure they are environmentally sustainable long-term. However there will always be companies that will never self-regulate. That's why some form of meaningful legislation is necessary. But now is not the time for cap and trade legislation while we're in the midst of trying to recover the economy from a recession.
Matt McCall: I think you have to self-regulate. The free market has to figure this out. It will over time. Eventually, companies are going to put pressure on each other to become more sustainable and environmentally friendly. We don't need the government to get its hands in this and spend huge levels of tax dollars.
Gary B. Smith: I don't think companies will really pressure each other to become more sustainable. I think it's more of a P.R. move by these companies instead of an economic one. If UPS thinks it makes economic sense to run its fleet on regular gasoline, then that's what they'll do. However, in terms of climate change, if there is one thing the government should get involved with, it's something like this. The U.S. is like a tenant renting an apartment—they don't care about the plumbing, the heating, etc. It's the job of the building owner to keep things maintained, and that's kind of the role of the government here.
Pat Dorsey: Companies will always do what's economically rational in the long-term. Right now, they don't know what that is because there isn't any real policy in regards to carbon emissions. There needs to be some sort of certainty from the government so companies can start making informed decisions about how to plan for any new environmental regulations.
Gary B. Smith: Ditch the stores & shop online! "AMZN" hits $150 by Christmas
Tobin Smith: "Climategate" is great for coal! "BTU" heats up 40 percent by April
Matt McCall: Housing rise is your gain! "TOL" builds 40 percent in 1 year
Pat Dorsey: Tired of low rates? Charge up your bottom line with "WR"
Cavuto on Business
On Saturday November 28, 2009 Charles Payne was in for Neil Cavuto. He was joined by Ben Stein, Dagen McDowell, Gary Kaltbaum and Joe David Nelson.
More 'Side Deals' Coming to Get Health Care Passed?
Gary Kaltbaum, Kaltbaum & Associates: This is no ordinary bill—this is the biggest redistribution of wealth in history. This is insane. When a Congressperson gets up and says I got paid $300 million to vote for the bill, it just makes you want to puke. Nothing is going to change with the current people in Congress. The good news is that next year is an election year. Hopefully the American people will have the good mind to do something about this.
Ben Stein, Author, "How to Ruin the USA": Congress has set a new bar for fiscal indiscretion. I may even call it treason. Knowingly spending the nation into bankruptcy borders on treason. I'm very concerned about this. The administration and Congress operate on the back of a number of hoaxes. Climate change, energy companies gauging consumers, and being able to bend the health care curve. The arithmetic on the spending is real, and the government is spending us into bankruptcy.
Dave Nelson, DC Nelson Asset Management: This sort of stuff has gone on since the beginning of the republic. Back in 2003, there were all sorts of back office deals done to get the Medicare prescription legislation passed. It wasn't even voted on until all the backroom deals were done. We're going to get a health care bill, but we have to slow down this process. No one's arguing that we shouldn't reform health care, the question is how, and in what timeframe.
Dagen McDowell, Fox Business Network: The repair side of the legislation should focus on reducing the rapidly rising costs of health care. There's nothing in this legislation that gives power to people and more responsibility in terms of the health care decisions they're making.
Triple Tax Hike Threat?
Gary Kaltbaum: All you have to do is look at the tax rates from the late 1970s, with its 70 percent tax rates, and ask how well businesses and individuals did then. Any company or individual making money is going to head out of here. Why not? Who wants to give up even more large sums of their income, especially if it can be used to create new jobs or expand a business? Raising tax rates across the board is going to be disastrous economically.
Dagen McDowell: Our current economic environment is even worse than it was during the 1970s. We've got unemployment at over 10 percent, and major uncertainty of what the tax code will look like a year or two from now. No business owner is going to go out and hire people if they don't know what the playing field is going to look like in the near future.
Ben Stein: Higher tax rates by themselves will not generate an end to prosperity. The problem here is the uncertainty—the uncertainty about health care, income taxes, corporate taxes, capital gains tax rates, cap and trade, etc. No businessman in his right mind would go out and expand their business right now given the economic atmosphere.
Dave Nelson: Americans hate bad news. We have big problems that need to be addressed, and unfortunately taxes have to go up to solve them. We're not in a normal recession. This is unlike anything we've known in our lifetimes. Recovering our country's economic system for the long term is going to cost money, and we can't ignore that.
How Can We 'Share the Bounty' With $12 Trillion in Debt?
Ben Stein: His is a country where well-to-do people still have a lot to give to the less fortunate. And there's absolutely nothing wrong with private charity. But in the government sense, President Obama has to realize there's no more money to spend on his fantasy projects. We're broke! The President doesn't seem to get that.
Gary Kaltbaum: Everybody is going to feel the pain from rising debt and deficit levels. Where is the bounty? This past year, the administration spent $3.5 trillion on its budget. It has nothing more to give. The well has run dry. Taxpayers are spent. To give bounty, you have to have something to give.
Dagen McDowell: You could take every single dollar earned by people making over $500,000 and it wouldn't cover the federal government's current deficit. But we are a very generous nation. But shouldn't it be left up to the individual? For them to figure out how to give away their bounty and to who? Washington seems to think it should be making the decision.
Dave Nelson: We shouldn't beat up on the president for trying to bring us together on Thanksgiving. On a day like Thanksgiving, we're talking about giving to your neighbor, to those in need. We're not really addressing the federal deficit on this occasion, though it is certainly something that we need to give attention to on any other day.
Gary Kaltbaum: Altria Group (MO)
Ben Stein: iSHARES MSCI EAFE (EFA)
Dave Nelson: Service Corporation Int'l (SCI)
Forbes on Fox
On Saturday, November 28, 2009, David Asman was joined by Steve Forbes, Rich Karlgaard, Neil Weinberg, Mike Ozanian, Victoria Barret, Quentin Hardy, Kai Falkenberg, and Evelyn Rusli.
In Focus: Is a Second Stimulus 'Insane'?
David Asman: Is Congress going insane?! Lawmakers said to be crafting another $100 billion dollars in "stealth" stimulus, even though America's economy has lost 3 million jobs since the first round. That has some folks at Forbes reminding us what Albert Einstein said: Insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results. So is doing more stimulus insane or is it a smart idea?
Rich Karlgaard: David, it's clinically insane. Now, you can understand the process that leads to this… the Democrats are terrified of running the 2010 elections on 10 percent+ unemployment, and it may be 12 percent by the time we get there. Here's the insanity part: The reason that we have high unemployment is because small business is not hiring. Part of this is capital constraint, but when I go around the country and talk to small business people, they're playing defense because they're terrified of what could happen with Obama's three signature issues: health care, cap and trade, and forced unionization. So the irony, the insanity, is that by pursuing these policies, you're depressing unemployment.
Neil Weinberg: In the short term, it will be a creator. Saying that this hasn't worked is kind of like blaming the fire department because it comes to a burning house and it throws water on the house and then you see that the house is charred and say "My goodness, it didn't work." We have 10.2 percent unemployment right now. It might be 12.2 percent if it weren't for the stimulus. Right now, there is no one else spending. I think we do need a stimulus.
Steve Forbes: It's not the fire department. It's an arsonist putting more gasoline on the fire. That is what we have going on here. We do need a second stimulus, but through a Reagan-esque stimulus: slash spending, cut taxes, and don't try to nationalize the economy. Little things like that would go a long way.
Quentin Hardy: Wait a minute. The first stimulus had over $200 billion in tax cuts. You didn't think that was a good idea? I thought it was a good idea. There are 3 million jobs lost since then. There could be far more lost if we hadn't had this. As you may recall in March, the Dow was at 6,000. The stimulus happened around then. Last time I looked, the Dow had done pretty well. Maybe we're headed into a better period now, but nobody I know feels confident. And the banks aren't lending and small business can't get started. Maybe they do need a shot in the arm.
Victoria Barret: We have had a net job loss. And to Rich's point, businesses big and small are playing defense right now and they're not hiring because they're concerned about what the government is going to do next and the government spending that's going to happen that's going to eventually lead to higher taxes. I'll offer up an anecdote. We have a columnist for Forbes, Gary Sutton, who is involved with a company that essentially tracks employment and staffing and they got a contract with a city in Florida to track how many jobs were being created with stimulus money. The numbers they got back were not very encouraging and so they decided to scrap the project. What was happening was the municipality was essentially giving money away to local universities and not tracking where the money was going. That gives me the sense that the stimulus money just gets sprinkled around. It doesn't go directly to jobs. It's very ineffective and it costs a lot to taxpayers.
Would Taxing Wall Street Create Jobs or Kill Jobs?
David Asman: Tax Wall Street to help Main Street? That's the new democratic plan, a $150 billion dollar tax on stock transactions to raise money to pay for a new jobs bill. But Steve says this tax will kill jobs.
Steve Forbes: This is a brilliant idea. We want more investment, so let's tax it, which will end up giving us less investment. It will also drive trading overseas. Not good. It will also hurt capital-raising in this country because the way you get big companies tomorrow is with small companies today being able to go public. So this is just a huge tax on the very thing, the essence of capital, that creates a recovery. We've tried that kind of nonsense before in the 1930s. It did not work.
Quentin Hardy: Well, it really depends on what you're taxing and why. And this appears to be taxes on derivatives which I have to say didn't do such a great job on creating wealth or allocating capital. They took everybody on a big housing-based holiday that took us to the current point of ruin. Now, the banks didn't seem to do a very good job of managing themselves. Maybe if you put a little friction on these things, they'll act more responsibly and act as if "Oh this costs us some money, this is a risk we need to measure" instead of being so "la dee da" about it. I'm sorry. You have to tax somewhere if you're going to run a government. Where else are you going to do it?
Victoria Barret: This isn't just a tax on derivatives, Quentin. They're looking at taxing all sorts of equity trading. So it would be essentially a tax on investing which like Steve said is not a good idea in an economy where you want people to be investing. If you want to target derivatives because you think they got us into this problem, let's look at that. Let's look at regulating derivatives. Let's look at bringing transparency to that market, not doing some weird kind of blanket tax that has all these other consequences that maybe we can't even predict and will probably gum our economy up.
Neil Weinberg: The fact of the matter is the vast majority of transactions on Wall Street are just money games. They're not helping companies build capital and raise capital. Maybe Steve you're right. Maybe we should have a moratorium on this sort of tax for IPOs for the first public offering, but a lot of this is just moving money around. The derivatives games. The compensation on Wall Street is at its highest level since the Great Depression. So I am sorry, I don't think it would be such a bad thing. The other thing I would say is the vast majority of us individual investors saving for retirement – we shouldn't be trading all the time. We should be buying and holding. So what's wrong with a tax?
Mike Ozanian: I partially agree with Quentin in that it's largely based around derivatives, but here's the full story, David. It's really a payoff to municipal unions. A lot of municipalities relied on derivatives to help their expenses. In some cases, it completely backfired like in Detroit, which is a great example. A derivative blew up on them. Instead of cutting back on what they're going to pay the people that work for the government in those cities, they want Wall Street to finance the city and say "Ok. Now since the City of Detroit's bets went bad, guess what? We want more money from Wall Street so we don't have to cut union jobs."
Should the Airlines Get a Tax Holiday in Order to Make the Skies Safer?
David Asman: Millions of Americans are flying through the air this Thanksgiving weekend, and airline executives are warning that high taxes are preventing them from upgrading planes and services. The Forbes legal eagle says it's putting fliers at risk and it's time to give airlines a tax holiday.
Kai Falkenberg: That's right. Retailers get tax holidays and they don't hold anybody's lives in the balance. The airlines should give this money to pilot salaries. The plane that crashed in Buffalo in February was piloted by somebody who was making $16,000. That's less than a barista at Starbucks. I'd like to see the airlines adopt the mantra of Wall Street. If you want good people, you have to pay them a lot of money. I'd be happy to see a lot more Sully Sullenbergers in the cockpit
Evelyn Rusli: But David, a temporary tax holiday is not going to cause fundamental changes that will make our skies safer. If an airline operator doesn't have the controls in place to prevent a drunk pilot from getting in the cockpit, then they have deeper management issues here.
David Asman: So controls are more important than lower taxes Neil?
Neil Weinberg: This is horrible. The government does this to all kind of industries: booze, tobacco, airlines, and telecommunications. So what you do is you suck these industries dry. Fortunately, sucking alcohol dry isn't such a bad thing. But the fact of the matter is this is an industry that has been in terrible financial shape for a long time, so as Kai was saying give it a tax holiday.
David Asman: Well Steve you have a personal example of how much these taxes cost us all.
Steve Forbes: My daughter Katherine wanted to fly overseas and got a bargain price, $650. A shock to see $350 of that $650 was in the way of taxes. More than half of the price was taxes. Instead of a tax holiday, how about a tax retirement? Cut the federal income tax, cut corporate taxes to get a vibrant economy. That helps the airlines. How about using that money to get air traffic control out of the control of the politicians so we get a modern system where you could get twice the capacity than we get today?
Rich Karlgaard: I'm for everything that Kai says, but let's put the safety business into context. When you're driving around this Thanksgiving weekend, you are at 15 times greater risk of crashing your car than you are when you buy a seat on a commercial airline. Commercial airlines are by far and away the safest form of travel in the U.S. The best tax cut, in addition to the ones mentioned, would be to strengthen and stabilize the dollar because the highest cost for the airlines is fuel prices and they have to engage in these absurd hedging mechanisms just to make sure that they don't bet wrong on fuel prices, which is purely a function of an erratic bouncing dollar.
Stocks That Are Still Cheap and Ready to Soar
David Asman: Out this week, Forbes' 2010 investment guide filled with stocks set to put some cash in your pocket. Our Informers have stocks that are still cheap and ready to take off.
Mike Ozanian: Frontline (FRO)
Neil Weinberg: U-Store-It (YSI)
Evelyn Rusli: Honeywell (HON)
$55 Climategate Scandal: Key to Unlocking Our Economy?
John Layfield, Nutritionmarket.com: This is best thing possible for our economy and climate. The problem with this climate bill is, if you listen to every scientist they will tell you the same thing. This does zero for the climate and it's going to cost hundreds of billions of dollars. If these bogus scientists discredit climate change enough not to get it passed this is great for the economy.
Tyson Slocum, Public Citizens Energy Program: These are just some sloppy emails by some sloppy scientists. The fact is that the changes to our climate are proven facts. It's a peer-reviewed scientific procedure. The people that deny climate change is going on, this is just a distraction. A lot of major U.S. corporations have endorsed climate change legislation.
Jonathan Hoenig, Capitalistpig Asset Management: That's the idea that the greenies headed by Al Gore would like to have you believe. It's that the consensus is in. The exaggeration and manipulation shows they would do and say anything to push their agenda forward. Please, they'd hang a business guy for this.
Tracy Byrnes, Fox Business Network: Here's the problem with this. And it's more with cap and trade than the actual issue with climate change. We have issues. We use hairspray and we probably shouldn't do that. The problem with cap and trade bill that's on the table now is it's going to make the country more broke than we are now. And it's going to hit farmers, ranchers and manufacturers. And that's the last group of people you want to hurt right now.
Jonas Max Ferris, Maxfunds.com: There have been many cases when a majority of scientists were wrong. However, I don't think what's being proposed is really going to solve our problems if man did do it, which I believe. It's so hard to solve and it would cost so much to the economy in the short run.
Wayne Rogers; Wayne Rogers & Co.: This entire consensus does not make good science. The scientific facts are not on their side. The two guys that led the study we are depending on are on the payroll of BP. They get two million dollars a year to make that study. There's a study called the seven myths about green jobs, it's put out by PERC. Read that.
Best Use of Leftover Bailout Money?
Tracy Byrnes: Does anyone here trust the government to spend our money properly? No! So give it back to me so I can spend it properly. I have bills to pay. I'm not going to Christmas shop and blow it all away. Why? Because I think before I spend my money. Unlike the government…they will blow it on the way to the bathroom and we'll never know what happened to all our money.
Jonas Max Ferris: Tracy, I don't know who you think has your money because the money hasn't been borrowed yet. We've gotten a lot of the benefit from the stimulus. The economy appears to be turning around. We can always borrow more later if it starts to weaken again, and you don't want to raise taxes to pay off the debt but we don't need to borrow $300 million.
John Layfield: I agree with Tracy. You cant trust the government to run a one car parade. These guys have not run anything efficiently since this country was founded. But this country is not solvent. This is not our money, this is China's money. We borrowed this money from China and for them to say something is stupid…"Hey, let's take this TARP money and extend it and we can use to it pay back the debt." That's like taking a second mortgage to pay off your first mortgage and saying I'm debt free. It makes no sense. We have to become solvent at some time in this country.
Wayne Rogers: I would pay down the debt because this is crazy. It's like saying ok we're going to borrow from our children and grandchildren to pay ourselves. It's the same thing. You're just taking money that in the future — you're using borrowed money, not taxed money, and you're going to pay it back to yourself? Well why don't we borrow zillions and we can all become millionaires? And then put it down in the future in 50 years.
Jonathan Hoenig: I'd probably take the first, let's just flow $100 billion and study reasonable ways to cut this entitlement state because regardless of what we do now, we have built – between Medicare, Medicaid, Social Security, a ticking time bomb of Ponzi schemes. Those bills are already coming due. What would I do with the money? Give it back to the people who actually earned it and to those who actually grow the economy. Growing the economy doesn't happen from redistributing income. It comes through capitalism, property rights and profit seeking individuals. That's whose money it is and that's who we should return it to.
Are Increasing Home Sales Bad for the Job Market?
Jonathan Hoenig: Because as you put it out, it's the government subsidies that are fueling the rebounds. So we're creating another bubble just as we did with the Community Investment Act, and Fannie and Freddie. Basically, we're diverting money to support housing. And reality exists and all these temporary measures like Cash for Clunkers of Housing Stimulus, as soon as they go away, the net effect goes away. So we ultimately got less money for individuals who invest in businesses and create jobs. It's ludicrous.
Jonas Max Ferris: Hopefully its temporary…the danger is the permanent housing stimulus that we've had for decades. We were running housing stimulus during a housing bubble…that was the dumb policy. We got 37 months of straight decline in Las Vegas. The whole country could be that bad right now if we didn't have these stimulus plans. Four years ago on this show I said housing could fall 50 percent in many markets. It has in some markets, not all markets, because the government stepped in and supported housing. I know the stupid policy is raising money but that was the core problem in the economy.
Wayne Rogers: I'm lost here. I don't understand why an increase in home sales will lead to a loss of jobs. First off, you can't buy a home unless you have a job. You have to be qualified. They are going to ask you to show what your earnings are. So this is what got us in trouble before because no one asked those questions. An increase in home sales means that that guy has a job already.
Tracy Byrnes: We saw an increase in home construction, we saw an increase in new home sales. Why? Because we're all getting free money because of tax credits because interest rates are very low. So to Jonathan's point, is there an inflation bubble brewing here? Yes! And if the thing bursts again, we could very well be back to square one where your realtors, your contractors, your refrigerator repairman is all out of work again because we created this little bubble.
What Do I Need To Know?
John Layfield: Weak dollar, with low interest rates. DXD is a fund I invested in. It does twice the inverse of the DOW and also got a lot of cash.
Tracy Byrnes: Oprah Winfrey will interview Barack Obama at the White House in hopes of giving him back his mojo. Won't work. Between the deficit and unfortunately no young people watch her show anymore.
Jonathan Hoenig: Well a cold snap is sweeping the nation so you might want to check outGrupo Aeroportuario Del Sureste SA de CV. (ASR) is the ticker symbol. They run and manage airports in Cancun and Cozumel, the swine flu paranoia has dissipated.
Wayne Rogers: Well, if you thinking nation is a threat and interest rates are going to rise take a look at (TBT).
Jonas Max Ferris: Speaking of gracias, marijuana — they are cracking down on the loosey-goosey giving away of marijuana. Buy (WPI).