Recap of July 19: Time To Leave Iraq?

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[Neil Cavuto was on vacation this week. Bob Sellers hosted and was joined by Gregg Hymowitz, founder of Entrust Capital; Jim Rogers, president of; Ben Stein, former speechwriter for Nixon and author of Yes, You Can Time The Market! ; Tom Dorsey, president of Dorsey, Wright & Associates; Mary Schiavo, former Inspector General for the Department of Transportation and lawyer for 9/11 victim families; Christopher Wolf, litigation attorney at Proskauer Rose; and Meredith Whitney, FOX News Business Contributor.]

Is It Time To Leave Iraq Altogether?

Bob Sellers: Is the best way to help Iraq, our brave troops, and our market to give Iraqis more of our tax dollars? Or should we pull out now? Fifty billion dollars plus $4 billion more a month is the cost of rebuilding a free Iraq. All that as deadly attacks on our troops continue to escalate. But would shelling out even more money get us out sooner and keep stocks up longer? Or is it time to leave Iraq altogether?

Ben Stein: The problem isn't the money. We can easily afford the $4 million a month. That's less than half of 1percent of our gross domestic product. And it's a very small price to pay for ending terrorism. The problem is these deaths in Iraq and the enormous draw down of these forces. If North Korea were to attack South Korea right now we would have noone to defend them right now. We have a big military and defense crisis right now. Mr. Rumsfeld and the Congress need to address it right now. But if we were to pull out of Iraq there would be an absolute catastrophe.

Jim Rogers: We spend $50 billion a year and you know they lie when they come up with those numbers, so it's probably a lot more than that. We should not be there. We're getting bogged down. We should let the Iraqis take care of the Iraqis. The President said we went into Iraq to get rid of Saddam and get rid of weapons of mass destruction. We've done that, so now let's get out.

Gregg Hymowitz: It would be a disaster for American legitimacy and credibility to get out of Iraq now. I disagree with Ben. We're going to spend quarter of a trillion dollars there, at the least, over the next four years. That's half of next year's budget deficit. That will ultimately effect interest rates, the economy and the bond market.

Meredith Whitney: It'll blow out our deficit and it blows out interest rates, which neutralizes any kind of stimulus that Greenspan is trying to effect. I think the other problem is a destabilized, major oil producing country, in the highly volatile Middle East is a much bigger risk than anything else.

Jim Rogers: And we can't afford it, despite what Ben says.

Ben Stein: This is a $10 trillion economy, maybe even close to $11 trillion. We can easily afford it. We cannot leave Iraq. It would be a foreign policy catastrophe.

Bob Sellers: Should American businesses be going into Iraq or is it too risky?

Gregg Hymowitz: American businesses aren't going to go there until it's more stable. I don't think what we're doing there is fighting terror. There's no electricity in central Baghdad. Even to get electricity will cost $10 billion. I think half the budget deficit, a quarter of a trillion dollars over the next four years, is a lot of money.

Bob Sellers: Meredith, does the market care?

Meredith Whitney: I think the market cares when there's guerrilla warfare. That's very damaging to investor's psychology.

Jim Rogers: The market has had a huge rally and it's going to go down for whatever reason. But if we get into a quagmire there and have to come home with our tail between our legs, that won't be good.

Ben Stein: It's not any way near a quagmire. A few months blip here and there on the stock market is trivial. I think what's happening with the market is trivial compared with the foreign policy considerations.

Gregg Hymowitz: I think if we keep spending this kind of money, it'll be a big negative for the market and the economy. It's a big negative for interest rates and a big negative for the equity markets.

More for Your Money

Even the losers get lucky sometimes. So are the worst performing stocks now your best bet to get more for your money? Tom, back at the beginning of the year, you were here telling us to buy losing tech stocks when many were saying stay away. That was a good call. What's a bargain now?

Tom Dorsey: I can't forget making that call. That was the last opportunity people had to outperform the broad averages this year. What's interesting that has happened is there's no lagging sectors. Food and chemical sectors are the only ones that are down this year.

Gregg Hymowitz: Chemicals have not performed well because natural gas prices have hurt them. I think if you don't look at sectors but individual stocks, there are still some good ones out there to buy. One company I like, which I know Jim hates, is Fannie Mae (FNM). It's at eight times earnings. They have clean accounting and great management.

Jim Rogers: This is bad for my nervous system. You said it's at eight times earnings. It's going to eight dollars. The whole thing is a sham. In any case, I wouldn't be buying stocks at all.

Ben Stein: I would be selling tech stocks. If I did buy anything I might buy Anheuser-Busch (BUD). This is a wonderfully run company. I don't own it but it's a good company. I think the market is way too high though. The QQQ's are at 240 times earnings. Obviously earnings are not sustaining the market.

Jim Rogers: The market is looking ahead. What I do in this environment is I sell. I'm short the Diamonds (DIA) and I've been selling all over the world.

Tom Dorsey: I looked at the chemical sector and found one I think is a winner. That stock is Praxair (PX) and it has all of the five attributes we require to buy a stock.

Head to Head

Bob Sellers: Should victim's families of the September 11th attacks accept a government payout of over a million dollars? Or are they doing a service to themselves and the country to reject that offer and instead sue airlines and others to get answers, and maybe a lot more money?

Christopher Wolf: They will have a simpler process to follow if they take the millions from the government. They simply fill out a form and they don't have to go through the rigors of a trial. And while I'm a trial lawyer and litigator, I think it's the worst thing for my clients to go through. It can be a very draining and emotional process.

Mary Schiavo: It's a very difficult time for these families but I think it's very presumptive to put what they want and their feelings on to these families. These families have had two years to decide that this is the right move for them. And for people like Mr. Wolf to say, 'Oh, it's too much for them. They should just take the money from the government and move on,' remember his firm represents the general contractor on the World Trade Center and GMAC, the largest mortgage holder on the World Trade Center. When the families come to me and say this is what they want and that they did not get a National Transportation Board investigation as to what happened, I am happy to do that because they deserve that.

Christopher Wolf : They're going to be rewarded anything from $1.5 and $5 million. Do you know that there are still victims of the Korean Airlines crash who are still being paid? There are a lot of people to blame for 9-11 from the CIA to immigration. Mary herself has written about it. The trial will be an absolute circus trying to figure out who ought to pay.

Mary Schiavo: There's needs to be some truth checking here. The families are not seeking any specified dollar amount. And the only circus atmosphere is coming from claims filed by people like Mr. Wolf's clients. GMAC has filed a series of cases including accusing one of their other corporate actors of using the money they made in insurance to lobby for legislation to hurt the families and decrease their ability to seek their justice in the court. Most of what has slowed these procedures down have been claims filed by corporate defendants. We finished the Alaskan Airlines trial in under three and a half years. Another truth check is that families can recover as little as $250,000 from the fund, while businesses are seeking $40 billion.

Christopher Wolf: Mary is in the business to get clients so she can get a third of the recovery. That's not going to happen in the claims process.

Mary Schiavo: All I can say is GMAC is fighting for the billions to take it away from the families. We will recover and we will get our answers, which is the most important thing.

FOX on the Spot

Meredith Whitney: Nasdaq drops this Summer then tops 2000.

Ben Stein: Market stalls or falls for rest of the year.

Tom Dorsey: Buy treasuries for quick bounce & profits!

Gregg Hymowitz: Return of 30-year treasury hurts bond market.

Jim Rogers: Sell Russia! Scams send Russian stocks south.