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Bulls & Bears
Brenda Buttner was joined by Gary B. Smith; Tobin Smith; Brian Sullivan; Pat Dorsey and Mark Levine.
Will Government Agency Promising to "Protect" Consumers Cost Jobs?
Tobin Smith, NBT Media: This is absolutely a job killer, and the unintended consequences of this consumer protection agency are starting now. More and more kinds and extensions of credit will come under the tent of bureaucracy. As a result, and bank doesn't lend as much, businesses can't get as much credit, and don't hire as many employees as a result.
Mark Levine, Radio Talk Show Host: This new consumer protection agency would allow consumers to know the truth. It's designed to let consumers know, for example, that if they borrow $100, after four years and 23 percent interest, suddenly they're paying $400. The only people who are going to lose jobs are people trying to scam consumers. I don't care if they lose their jobs when they've already lost their souls.
Brian Sullivan, Fox Business Network: This will create jobs--bureaucratic jobs in Washington, DC. You may not like major banks like JP Morgan Chase. But if you make them spin off their trading desks, hedge fund units, those are the units making money. What's left is a bank with a bunch of loans that may or may not go bad. As a result, they're going to pull back loans and credit to businesses, and jobs would be lost as a result.
Gary B. Smith, TheChartman.com: We already have extensive laws for consumer protection. The government just has to actually go out and enforce them. This is the Obama administration's way of taking over our entire economy. This is going to be yet another government agency getting in the way between businesses and consumers. We've seen what happened in the credit card industry, and the rates that have gone up since it was reformed. It's harder to get credit cards, and credit is limited. Wealthy investors and entrepreneurs who come up with money to fund companies like Google would be restricted. This agency would make it take months to get approval to make loans or invest.
Pat Dorsey, Morningstar.com: Part of the problem now is that there are anti-fraud, anti-predatory lending laws on the books that are poorly enforced. These laws are out there so there's no point in creating a second set of regulation that won't really get enforced either. What I don't want to see is this whole bill killed though, because there are some positive aspects to it that will clean up the regulatory structures surrounding large banks.
Health and Human Services Report on Health Care Law: Proof It Drives Up Costs, Not Down?
Gary B. Smith: For months, we've be saying there is not going to be a pony under the Christmas tree. This report proves it. I think it actually low-balls this $300 billion deficit over ten years. I think it's going to be ten times that. The problem with these health care reforms is that it will drive up demand far beyond supply. Some companies are talking about getting rid of their insurance plans because it'll be cheaper to just shove their insurance onto the government.
Mark Levine: All you have to do is read the report to find there's nothing wrong here. If you're currently uninsured, you're going to have to pay some money, but you get health care. If you're currently insured, you save money, paying less for health insurance. It's good for people who currently get health insurance. Extra money paid by the currently uninsured will got to help offset rising costs. Costs will increase about 1 percent over ten years, a negligible amount through which everyone becomes better off.
Brian Sullivan: Look at the cost curve growth in Medicare since it began--a massive increase. What's going to happen here is like what's gone on in Canada, where wealthy people pay their taxes and leave the system to get health care elsewhere. If you've got enough money, you see private doctors and pay cash. If health insurance companies start losing the healthy and wealthy and do their own thing, then the insurance pool turns into people who typically are in worse health, and costs skyrocket.
Tobin Smith: Speaking as a business owner myself, there's huge incentive to take our people off company provided insurance and allow the government to assume responsibility because it doesn't make financial sense for us to pay the rate. When people have to go self-fund insurance plans, the government mandated they get Cadillac plans which are more expensive and offer things people likely don't want or need. Basically, people will end up paying the fine for not having health care since it's cheaper, then jump to insurance when they get sick, and drive costs up enormously.
Pat Dorsey: This report really doesn't surprise me. The focus of these reforms was increasing coverage. We can argue all day if this was a good or bad thing. But that was the focus. It didn't go after the root issue, as in, how are we going to pay for health care over the long term in the U.S. Nothing fundamental about cost savings was ever on the table. The system is so broken, to address the root causes, you'd have to blow it all up and start over. No one was willing to do that.
Is Government Creating New Housing Bubble With Your Tax Dollars?
Tobin Smith: This is a fact. The federal government is giving 90 percent of home mortgages out the last 18 months. We're just creating a new Cash for Clunkers for houses. The government has created this market. When it goes away, we'll find the true market isn't at this level, and taxpayers will want their $13 billion back.
Mark Levine: This is not going to cause a housing bubble. The reason is that this is a short-term program much like Cash for Clunkers. Cash for Clunkers kept the auto market doing well during the worst of the recession.
Brian Sullivan: If you want a private sector loan, you have to have a credit score of about 720, to get a FHA loan, you have to have a credit score of 580. So we're extending loans and mortgages to people with bad credit. Sound familiar? And when the government starts implementing policies like this, it gets me a little nervous.
Gary B. Smith: This is created by Washington, and it's a short-term fix. That's almost the definition of a bubble. The government is flooding the market with homebuyer tax credits, along with low interest rates, which find their way into the mortgage market, spurring home demand. When that goes away, and interest rates head up, what going to happen to these artificially inflated prices? They're going to come down.
Pat Dorsey: The FHA is replicating some of the worst lending practices of the private sector in 2005 and 2006. But this isn't going to cause a systemic crisis, but it enforces unsustainable demand. Once this program ends, we're going to see housing prices move towards their natural demand.
Tobin Smith: "Cash 4 Appliances" wastes $300M! "WHR" cleans up 40 percent in 1 year
Gary B. Smith: Forget Goldman, bet on Citi! "C" Doubles within the year
Pat Dorsey: Make green w/black gold! "XOM" strikes 30 percent gains in 1 year
Brian Sullivan: Apple, "AAPL", grows to biggest market cap in 1 year
Cavuto on Business
Neil Cavuto was joined by former CEO of General Electric Jack Welch; Dagen McDowell; Charles Payne and Adam Lashinsky.
D.C. Going After Moneymakers; Attacking the American Dream?
Jack Welch, former CEO of General Electric: The financial reform bill being considered doesn't really go after compensation in any significant way. These companies are escaping any particular raft and they'll work their way around any issue Congress may put in front of them. These things come and go. It's noise. If you're the CEO of a company, you should just stay focused on being profitable and making sure you have good quarters. The process is wrong. We go after a particular industry, and get a 1,300 page bill that hits invention, entrepreneurship, etc. We reform an industry but attach all these horrible things to the reforms.
Charles Payne, WStreet.com: All week long, we've been hearing people in Washington telling Wall Street what they're supposed to do or not supposed to do. Profits have become the de-facto enemy here. I think this is going to hurt businesses a lot. It'll hurt all American corporations at some point. Companies are afraid. They're intimidated when they post profits. And they should never have to be worried about making money. It's a slippery slope when profits become an evil word.
Dagen McDowell, Fox Business Network: This so-called war on profits isn't just limited to financial companies and their executives. We saw this in the health care debate with the government going after insurance companies since they were making money. Health insurance companies were vilified, despite the fact their annual profits are less than 1 percent of total health care spending. The government is attacking the American dream.
Adam Lashinsky, Editor-at-Large, Fortune Magazine: I read one of Jack Welch's books where he talks about what a ridiculous business investment banking is. He hated that business. And the American people and President Obama have a sense that Wall Street is cheating Main Street in some capacity. I have nothing against companies making gobs of money, be it Google, Apple, Microsoft, etc. What we're talking about here is Wall Street, and that they not only cheated, but got government assistance on top of their activity.
N.J. Voters Reject Tax Hikes; Sign of What'll Happen in November?
Charles Payne: I think this could be a referendum for the whole country come November. The government is engaging in reckless spending in the name of a short-term soft landing from the recession. But we're selling out our children's and grandchildren's opportunities and sending them down the drain to cushion the recession's blow that everyone should be taking--including public workers. It's an absolutely necessity, and there's really no way around it. Fortunately taxpayers are finally starting to wake up to it.
Jack Welch: This is going to be the big issue over the next six months--as in whether public workers can get constant salary and benefit increases. Meanwhile, private sector workers are out of a job, but still paying high taxes, and having to deal with a competitive environment. Meanwhile, public sector workers largely haven't seen any major cutbacks. People are tired of paying taxes to support the public sector and unions. I'll be shocked if we don't see a kind of tax rebellion from rank and file voters in November.
Dagen McDowell: Public sectors unions have a stranglehold on the states, and we're seeing it across the country. With Democrats in power, money gets recycled back to the unions, such as in California with the highest paid teachers in the country. People are getting pensions worth more than what they made in salary while they worked, and taxpayers are realizing this sort of thing isn't sustainable over the long-term.
Adam Lashinksy: This taxpayer dissatisfaction is only partly about public workers and unions. Yes, they have good benefits, but they also give up the opportunity to make large salaries. If you work on Wall Street, you live a comfortable existence. There's nothing that entrepreneurial about their jobs. People object to higher taxes, and agree to cutbacks in services. But wait until public schools and other public services start shutting down; we'll see what voters have to say.
Charles Payne: Arch Coal (ACI)
Adam Lashinsky: Oil Service HOLDRs (OIH)
Forbes on Fox
On Saturday, April 24, 2010, David Asman was joined by Steve Forbes, Bill Baldwin, Neil Weinberg, Stephane Fitch, Mike Ozanian, Quentin Hardy, Elizabeth MacDonald, and Kai Falkenberg.
Flipside: America Needs a 20 Percent National Sales Tax to Pay Off Its Debt!
DAVID ASMAN: The President's debt commission getting ready to meet this week for the first time and the Forbes team has a message for them. You want to dig America out of it multi-trillion dollar hole? Then slap Americans with a 20 percent national sales tax on just about everything they buy. That's the Flipside. Hi everybody, I'm David Asman. Welcome to Forbes on Fox. Let's get that Flipside from Steve Forbes, Elizabeth MacDonald, Mike Ozanian, Quentin Hardy, Stephane Fitch and Bill Baldwin. Bill, you say we need a 20 percent VAT. Why?
BILL BALDWIN: I feel that people should be taxed on what they take out of society, not what they put in. What we've been doing for the past century is wrong. We've been taxing income, but we should be taxing spending. So I've got a new Utopia. Chapter 1: repeal the 16th Amendment which allows the taxation of income. Chapter 2: implement a 20 percent flat national sales tax. Is that flat enough for you Steve?
STEVE FORBES: That is a Utopia. What Washington will do is take the 20 percent national sales tax and keep the income tax, just as the Europeans do. Let's look at the miracles that it's worked in Europe for the last 30 years: made it a laagered economy, increased unemployment, increased government spending, increased deficits. Do we want more of that here? Give me a break.
STEPHANE FITCH: What I like about the VAT is that it's fair. You don't see Europe jealously looking across the line saying he pays taxes, I don't. Everyone pays a VAT. If you don't like taxes, don't spend!
ELIZABETH MACDONALD: The fiscal maniacs in Washington think that reform, if anything, equals more taxes. Look, Russia has a flat tax, China is considering a flat tax. Spending and taxes have gone up in Europe and government has gotten bigger in Europe. They've only added 10 million jobs since 1982. We've added 45 million jobs since then under a less onerous tax regime.
QUENTIN HARDY: Did I just hear someone say we should have a tax system more like Russia and China? I don't think those are really aspirational governments. And I don't really see us being a model of fairness because everybody cheats. Big companies cheat with lobbyists making loopholes in the system. And let's face it, ordinary people cheat by cheating on their income tax. We need maybe a modest VAT, but really more enforcement of the existing system. By taking out loopholes, we'd have all the revenues we need.
MIKE OZANIAN: I'm against the VAT. It's sneaky, it's recessive, and all you need to know about it is, Germany came up with the theory in 1918 and France was the first country to widely implement it in 1954. That's all I need to know!
In Focus: Get Rid of School Lunch Program in Order to Cut Costs and Make Our Kids Healthier?
DAVID ASMAN: No more free lunches folks. New Jersey is looking to save by slashing state money for breakfast and lunch at school. This in the same week that the military says school food is making kids too fat to fight. Two good reasons Kai says it's time to can the school lunch program all together.
KAI FALKENBERG: This program makes me think of the Miller Lite commercial that says "tastes great, less filling." Well the school lunches taste bad, are more filling, and are more expensive. They have this commodity food program where they give food to the schools that isn't healthy and ends up being more expensive because of supply chain inefficiency where the food just sits on the shelves in the schools. What they should do is give the money to the schools so they can outsource to local providers and get healthy, fresh, nutritious meals to the kids.
QUENTIN HARDY: Conservatives don't like to tell people that they actually have to pay for things and liberals don't like to tell people that they actually have to take responsibility. Have you seen what these kids eat? Pizza, french fries, chocolate milk. Feeding the kids isn't the problem—that's good. It's what you feed them, and that does cost more. I'm sorry Governor Christie of New Jersey, shame on you for cutting school lunch budgets.
NEIL WEINBERG: I think you should get rid of this program all together. Twenty or 30 years ago, if you had a kid, he or she was your responsibility. Now we have before-school programs, after-school programs, breakfast, lunch, next we'll be doing homework for these kids. I mean, where does it end? What we need to do is tell people, if you want to have kids, take some responsibility. The level at which you can get these lunches has gone up to 180 percent of the poverty level. What is that poverty level about then? It makes no sense—it's just more government bureaucreep.
STEVE FORBES: This program costs $9 billion a year. That's real money, but there are other things that can be done to save real money. How about putting in a flat tax to save $300 billion a year? I don't worry about kids' appetites. I worry about Congress's appetite. That's where we need to get the free lunch mentality over with. And in terms of the kids, they're eating bad stuff? How about letting recess come back? How about sports programs so they work it off? Trial lawyers have killed all of those things in public schools.
MIKE OZANIAN: I think that Governor Christie is exactly right and that what he's doing can be a model for the rest of the country. The problem is that the teachers' union gives teachers free health care for life and they don't have to make any contributions to their pensions. Why not make teachers contribute a little bit like the rest of us do and use that money to solve Kai's problem and actually get these children healthy food?
ELIZABETH MACDONALD: I totally disagree. Keep the breakfasts and lunches for the poor kids who end up eating Tic Tacs out of their mothers' pocket books, and make the food better. $9 billion is what was spent on this program nationwide. That's less than the $16 billion that was spent on pork programs like the Charlie Rangel museum. Governor Christie is being called Margaret Thatcher Milk Snatcher for taking the milk and the food away. We have to take care of our poor kids first and they have to eat. And sometimes the parents are in a tough spot and we need to help them out a little bit. $9 billion is not a lot of money to spend compared to what we spend on pork.
Should Travel Be a Right Subsidized By the Government and Taxpayers?
DAVID ASMAN: Life, liberty and, vacations? The European Union declaring this week that tourism is a right and that travel should be subsidized by the government. Sounds ridiculous, you might say. But Stephane says, bring it to America?
STEPHANE FITCH: Yes, travel is an American right and I want to stop the war on it. Let's get rid of these high tolls that we whack people with when they go from one state to the next, let's bring back the great American road trip, let's dump these silly fees we charge people to visit our national parks, and you know what, throw them $50 if they visit a really far away state like Alaska or a really boring one like North Dakota.
STEVE FORBES: I'm amazed that Stephane would recommend a subsidy to go to Sarah Palin's state.
But really, where does Europe get the money from? Look at what they've done with all these subsidies. They've killed their economy. Why would we want to do that here? If you have a more prosperous economy, let people choose when and where they go on vacation. Don't take money from them and then say, we'll give it back to you for a vacation.
QUENTIN HARDY: As a former resident of the great state of Alaska and frequent visitor, I encourage people to go, just not on my dime. Look—this came from a broken down, Christian Democrat politician that Berlusconi wanted to get out of Italy and he put in Brussels. He's saying this while European airlines are under a cloud thanks to that volcano and they're looking for a payoff. This is a cheap trick and it's not going to work.
BILL BALDWIN: Do you remember that politician with that book with the really scary title, It Takes a Village to Raise a Child? So now we have the government feeding our children school lunches, picking which doctor I can see, and pretty soon we'll have the government telling me where I have to go on vacation, and guess what, it's going to be North Dakota!
NEIL WEINBERG: I don't think we're going European here. Quentin is right, this is just a sop to the airlines and the tourist industry in Europe. I don't think we're going to go that way. One thing I wouldn't mind—if President Obama is going to tell us what to do, at least tell companies that we need longer vacations, right Steve?
Informer: Stocks to Help You Avoid Your Own Debt Commission
MIKE OZANIAN: Astec Industries Inc. (ASTE)
NEIL WEINBERG: T. Rowe Price Group, Inc. (TROW)
STEPHANE FITCH: Public Storage (PSA)
BILL BALDWIN: iShares Canada (EWC)
Wynn Resort CEO Says White House Policies Are Hurting Jobs: Is He Right?
Wayne Rogers, Wayne Rogers & Company: He is one of the brightest guys there is in the gambling business. No doubt about that. He spends more, for example, on training his employees than any other hotel in Las Vegas. He's talking about moving to Macau for tax reasons and I think he's right in the sense if he sees an administration that is burdening his industry and they're going to do it and you talk about people driving jobs overseas, that is exactly what is going to happen when people do this. High taxes for anything is going to destroy jobs and make a company not be competitive.
Steve Leser, Opednews.com: I agree that Steve Wynn is a bright guy. But he chose to make the statement in a week that a gallop poll came out with a report that says 1.5 Million people, who are either unemployed or underemployed got jobs in the last 30 days. The indications are that Obama's policies are working. And there is big positive movement now in jobs situation.
Tracy Byrnes, Fox Business Network: We are not seeing it. High-tech in particular. Intel's CFO was interviewed and said if the administration doesn't do more to educate the people and give us incentives to stay, high-tech jobs are leaving. They are building a new plant in China opening at the end of the year. Where is the incentive to keep the companies in the states?
Jonathan Hoenig, Capitalistpig.com: Well, of course. Regulations will go up. Taxes will go up. That is a real impediment for business. There is a big history of this. Both overseas and in the U.S. Companies like Neighbors Industry and Tyco, in the last decade all left the U.S. They're coming in the U.K., Even the Rolling Stones of course let for tax reasons in the early 1970s. Yes, it has a big impediment on where companies choose to do business. What hurts me more is the president's attitude. Forget the tax code. His attitude that business is inherently corrupt. He said that in the speech this week. This is more damaging long-term.
John Layfield, Nutritionmarket.com: Wayne is right about everything. Steve Wynn is a brilliant guy and this tax policy of the administration. Look, if you are alive, you are going to pay more taxes next year. If you have anything around you, it's going to be taxed to excess. This naive child-like administration that thinks they can create this government utopia where the government runs everything and everybody is happy, it just doesn't work in the real world. None of them have ever run a business. They don't know that. The only way to pay for that is through the massive deficits and it's unfunded surplus, unfunded liabilities which are greater than Zimbabwe right now.
Jonas Max Ferris, Maxfunds.com: In his best interest to run the casino in America to have tax internet gambling. Internet gambling is often based offshore and it steals businesses from Las Vegas and Atlantic City. I bet Steve is for those taxes. Now as far as he talked about moving his business abroad because there is cheaper labor cost in China. Casinos will be here making money. He doesn't want to pay taxes here. What is that? Make money in America, good enough to make money here, but you want to move your tax business somewhere else? I'm not big on the whole patriot thing because I outsource coding abroad because it's cheaper for labor reasons but I'm not going to make money here and move myself abroad to pay taxes. That's ridiculous in my opinion.
Controlling Insurance Costs: Government Plan to Takeover Health Care?
Jonathan Hoenig: That is the plan here. Listen, healthcare is a private business. What would give the government any right to control it at all, control prices at all? The fact is health insurance is not a private market, it becomes less of a private business after the government gets involved. Then blaming health insurance companies it's like tying a man's legs together and blaming him for not running the mile fast enough. This is the backdoor of government takeover of healthcare.
Steve Leser: No this is not a plan for a takeover. The states are already regulating insurance premiums. This is a transfer from the state to the federal government. The fact that the insurance companies are crying over this, they are going to get 34 million new subscribers. Even if they take a hit on the profit they make per insurer they will make a boat load of money.
Jonas Max Ferris: Look, You can say gasoline will be a dollar. But You will be in line for 18 hours to buy a gallon of it. Russia had low prices fixed but people were in line to buy stuff. You want to limit the ability and cap the price. Medicare can't compete with that as private business. So you will wipe out the private healthcare industry because they can't compete with the taxpayers subsidized dollars. That simple. It will happen, there is a right way to do this and good things in the healthcare plan but this is heavy handed.
Tracy Byrnes: Who is controlling cost anywhere? The numbers are ballooning and it will cost us more. Don't think it's not coincidental it doesn't kick in until 2014. Already people are settled in the administration's staying where they are and pushing the agenda forward. Jonathan is right. We are moving in an all-over takeover of healthcare. People need to sit back and prepare for it.
John Layfield: I don't know why people warn of government takeover. You have healthcare and mortgage and student lending. That is 25 percent of the economy right now is socialized and run by the government. The revolution is not coming. The revolution is here. They may try to get to 50 percent by the mid-term elections. Health and human services came out and said the healthcare bill will cost us more. Medicare cuts are coming.
Wayne Rogers: Health insurance can't compete across state line. They need to be competitive, they need to compete against each other, not against the government. Competition is the natural regulator and you can't do it imposing something on somebody. We talked about jobs. They will be the biggest employer in the United States. John Layfield is right. Experts at the Health and Human Services estimated that the costs are going off the charts.
Gore's New "Inconvenient Youth" Plan to Educate Kids About Global Warming; Will It Help Save Planet Now or Will it Cost Us Later?
Tracy Byrnes: I hate this notion he took this over. First, this initiative was started by a 16-year-old. The kids wanted to educate each other. That's totally fair. For Al Gore to come in and push an agenda through the kids, because well, parents pretty much didn't buy it so he thinks let's move on to the next generation, if they don't I'll probably work on their kids next. This is going nowhere. The problem is, you scare the kids, they get really nervous and we end up paying for stuff that we have no backing for right now.
John Layfield: Look, I disagree with my friend Tracy. This cap and tax bill is a disaster. Al Gore somewhere in his life, someone sprayed human repellent on him. Nobody likes the guy. He can't win his own state in a Presidential election. But people don't like the messenger. There are good things in this. There is nothing wrong telling kids look take care of your environment, recycle your waste. That is a good thing. I understand people don't like the messenger and they kill the message.
Wayne Rogers: Al Gore happens to be -- he says consensus is in and everybody knows about this. Consensus is not in. It's not science. We know that. The books were cooked over in England about, you know, this issue. There is one reason to have some green in the economy. That is for national defense. If we can replace a certain amount of our dependence on petroleum coming out of the Middle East it will be healthy.
Jonathan Hoenig: I like green. It'd like a little green. Some money! That's the green I like. You know, what hurts me, John, what frustrates me is this isn't about loving the earth or taking care of your waste. The green mantra, the green philosophy is about man subordination to the environment. Al Gore doesn't want to profile Andrew Carnegie, he wants the kids to scold their parents for driving an SUV, eating meat or wearing leather. The green's goal is hurt mankind. That is what this is about.
Steve Leser: I actually went to the website and checked it out. This is just kids saying you know what? Today or once a week I'm going to walk to school instead of having my parents drive me. Or other things they can do to save energy. It's not any big thing to proselytize global warming. Everybody conserving helps the United States of America. We spend $1 billion a day on energy and mostly goes to countries that pay us.
What Do I Need to Know?
Tracy Byrnes: This never-ending erupting volcano is the best thing that happened to the airlines. Why? They are next in line for bail-out and they'll probably get it.
John Layfield: The government is going to use the SEC. Like a puppet to go after financials. Invest in a Democratic place like China. Buy (SOHU).
Wayne Rogers: People are drinking more and more vodka, the largest distributor of vodka in the world is simple European Distributing (CEDC) and trades around 35. I recommended it around $20. It's still a good buy.
Jonas Max Ferris: In honor of green day I'm going with Schnitzer Steel (SCHN) because they recycle used steel. I know it sounds like they make hotdogs but they recycle. Good way to play environmental green day pick.
Jonathan Hoenig: My top emerging market stock right now is Vietnam. The country is an absolute mess. They devalued their currency two times in two months and rife with political corruption. 20 percent of the country is poverty. I know it sounds like a great investment opportunity. (VNM) is to track the market. This is the low for the market. High-risk but big opportunities from here.