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Voters getting mixed messages on economy 45 days before election
JIM LACAMP: The big businesses are right about the economy. They have no incentive to tell you that things are bad since it doesn't help their stock prices. When you look at the data points the economy is slowing down. New orders, our trading partners and manufacturing are all going down. Employment trends are not improving so we listen to big business. The economic news right now means good things for the stock market. The stock market is not saying that the economies are not recovering. The stock market is saying that we're going to get more stimulus. That's what is driving stocks higher not an expectation of an economic recovery.
TOBIN SMITH: If you look at Intel they reported lighter numbers. Why, because they're getting their butts kicked by tablets. That's not an economic indicator. Look at real economic indicators. My favorite one by the way is, Container Board. If you look at Container Board their numbers are up in a significant way. Autos are up and oil production is up. The job market is not up but that has nothing to do with this rip roaring or not economy. This has to do with the fact that we have 6 million jobs available in the United States that can't be filled because the people aren't trained and the labor doesn't meet the requirements. Our economy is slowly getting better because housing is getting better, but it's not going backwards.
JONAS MAX FERRIS: It's bigger than any data point. People could be buying paper boards because they're getting foreclosed on their house and having to live in a cardboard box on the street doesn't mean the economy is going up. Publicly trading companies like to lie about the state of the economy when their earnings are bad so they don't have to take the blame themselves for the bad earnings. Companies in 2007 before the debt spiral in the economy where very optimistic, banks were giving out loans and they didn't see any problems coming. The stock market however is not perfect, but it's probably the most perfect leading economic indicator because it always almost starts to slide at or nearly before the peak in a business cycle. We've hardly ever have had a recession where the market wasn't down at least ten percent before when they look back and say that the economy peaked at that point. Since that is not the case now we definitely have not entered a recession if you look at the stock market.
GARY B. SMITH: If you believe that the stock market is as you say a leading indicator you would think that the economy is going up. I'm not convinced and I think that the correlation between the economy and the stock market is always tenuous at best. The things I look at for the economy, and I'll state clearly that I'm squarely in the middle because I think the economy is at its best moving sideways. The things that count like unemployment is inching down, but I think anyone would admit it's still at a high level. It's a lot higher than the Obama administration thought it was going to be at this point and it is a lot higher than anyone wants at this point. The second thing is that disposable income is inching up, but you don't have a dollar more in your pocket now than you did back in 2008. Finally, housing prices are inching up but the fact is unless you bought a house before 2000 you haven't made a dime and that is what people look for.
JULIAN EPSTEIN: If you look at where GDP was when Obama started we were at negative nine we are now forecasted to be north of a positive two. That is an eleven point positive swing. We were losing eight hundred thousand jobs a month and all the forecasts now say that we will be gaining at least a hundred thousand or more. That's a positive nine hundred or a million swing per month in jobs. We were at six plus in the stock market, but that has now doubled. If you look at investor confidence, consumer confidence, home construction and home sales are all up as personal debt is down. Of course you can find a few companies like FedEx that will say that things aren't as good, but FedEx is looking at other things like the trouble in the manufacturing sector and they're also looking at global trends. It is impossible to look at the data and say that things are not improving.
Gov. Romney's comments on dependency sparking new debate
GARY B. SMITH: I say no coincidence and 46 million people that are on food stamps also say no coincidence. The fact of the matter is that you can be the most moral, ethical hardest working person in the world but if you have an incentive out there to either work or not work and receive money in the form of food stamps, you're going to say that you aren't going to work. We've seen the number double in the last few years since 2001 and it should be obvious to everyone.
JULIAN EPSTEIN: First of all, most of the entitlement spending is spent on seniors. Seniors get two thirds of all entitlement spending and that's the one demographic group that happens to be in Romney's camp. Secondly, under the Bush administration the number of food stamp recipients grew far more than it grew under the Obama administration. The third point that the waiver of welfare work requirements have been debunked by fact check organizations is a lie. Fourth, what happened with respect to the extension of food stamp eligibility and the stimulus plan was that there was a temporary extension of the three month limit of getting food stamps because unemployment was so high. That expired in 2010 and the number of food stamp recipients is actually going down.
TOBIN SMITH: When I look at the research from the congressional study report they said that there was a normal amount of increase in food stamps and welfare during the great recession. If you take the able bodied side the side of people that would've normally increased at a normal rate it actually increased double the rate. You can't argue the statistical fact that it increased double the rate when the rules were changed and it made it easier to get welfare.
JONAS MAX FERRIS: This policy expired and we didn't see food stamp usage decline rapidly. In some states like Delaware they didn't even opt in for this rule and they are the leaders in the country of food stamp usage. I think Obama is taking heat for the symptoms of poverty and not the actual source which he is more to blame for which is not having policies to help the bottom third of the country displaced from the construction boom that collapsed.
JIM LACAMP: If you look at the history of not only the United States but any country that has these kinds of programs with unemployment benefits, every time they've tried to shorten the program people have gone back to work more quickly. There are a lot of people that have not gone back to work because they can't get the same kind of job that they used to have or the same pay that they had in 2007. They simply haven't gone back to work and they are looking for something to replace that income. If you shorten their benefits the fact is that they are going to be more incented to go out and find work even if it is lower paying and this has been proven over and over again in history. We have a president that operates on feel good economics. It's the exact same kind of economics that are drawn up by pot smoking college sophomores/
CBO: 6 MILLION Americans will get health care law fine, costing $8 BILLION A YEAR
TOBIN SMITH: We're probably going to have more people receiving those fines because as bad as those fines are for under forty and reasonably healthy people and small businesses it's cheaper to pay the fine and that's the whole point of this argument. It's cheaper to pay the fine than to participate in the way that health care system is setup. They're going to have to raise this fine to probably up to twenty-five hundred to de-incentivize people from just paying the fine.
JULIAN EPSTEIN: We've always known that there would be five to six million free loaders who want the rest of us to pay their health insurance and that is would be a reality under the new health care law. We focus on that and we don't focus on the fact that CBO now says that we will see premiums go down from four to eleven percent. We don't focus on the fact that small businesses are getting a fifty percent tax rebate. We don't focus on the fact that 19 million Americans will get $500 under the new rebate law or a 129 million Americans won't be subjected to pre-existing conditions in their health care. There are so many benefits for such a big portion of the population. We are talking about penalties here for the free riders who don't take responsibility because they want us to pay the bill to the tune of $102 billion a year.
GARY B. SMITH: I think it's going to hurt the economy for two reasons. One, I don't think the number is going to be six million. The problem is that the IRS is going to have a hard time finding this out. Will they have the capability to know whether I have Blue Cross or Blue Shield or don't or make up a phony number on my tax form? I think a lot of people are going to find ways around it. Second of all, if you think the government spends money efficiently than the private sector than yes, it'll be a good thing. Take my fine and spend it more efficiently. So any dollar I give them through taxes or these fines is going to be spent inefficiently and that will hurt the economy.
JIM LACAMP: I think it will hurt small businesses, but how will they track these people down who are hardly paying for anything right now? The reality is that if you pay people, and it costs you more to buy the insurance than it does to pay the fine than yes, you'll probably pay the fine. It will have an impact on the economy.
JONAS MAX FERRIS: CBO knows the cost of everything and the value of nothing. Yes it's going to grow and more people are going to pay this because it's cheaper than the insurance. The bottom line is that it's not lost money because who are paying for these people now? Hospitals are footing the bill as well as other insured people. The bottom line is that we have to get money out of these people who are not paying their way at this point.
TOBIN SMITH: iPhone 5 craze has Synchronoss Technologies, Inc. (SNCR) dialing up a 40 percent gain by January
JONAS MAX FERRIS: "Rotten" maps on iPhone 5 drives (AOL) up 25 percent in one year.
JIM LACAMP: SPDR Gold Shares (GLD) pumps up 25 percent by the end of 2013 as Fed keeps pumping out cash.
GARY B SMITH: Amazon (AMZN) clicks up 30 percent in one year despite snub from Wal-Mart and Target.