Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Jay Taylor: Turning Hard Times Into Good Times

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Hulbert: Don't Bet All or Nothing on Stocks Now

Mark Hulbert says investors should be wary of timing the market in the next few months.

In his MarketWatch column, Hulbert gives data on how market timers have performed during the past five to 20 years.

“There is today virtually no difference in the consensus stock market forecasts among the best stock market timers and among the worst. That is, the market timers who have successfully timed the market in the past are neither more bullish on balance than the worst timers, nor more bearish,” he said.

Hulbert said the difference is merely two percentage points “between the average recommended exposures of the market beaters and market laggards.” (more)

The Ponzi Decade: A Lost Decade in Stocks, Industrial Production, U.S. dollar, and Housing

It is fitting that we end the current decade just like we started it, with the bursting of bubbles. In the early part of the decade we were dealing with the fallout of the technology bust. That was quickly replaced by the even bigger housing bubble and that has now popped as well. The trillions lost by average Americans is incredible but in reality nothing was technically lost because the entire decade was one enormous Ponzi scheme and like all Ponzi schemes the wealth created is false. Bernard Madoff was simply the mascot of a decade built on phony money spewed out by the corporatocracy of Wall Street. What is even more troubling is how the actions taken by Wall Street are not being prosecuted in the same fashion as our justice system took on Bernard Madoff. The reason for that is the corporatocracy has legalized national bank robbery. (more)

More prime mortgages default in 3rd quarter

Troubled home loans continued to mount in the nation's banks in the third quarter as even once-solid borrowers increasingly fell behind on their mortgage payments.

For the first quarter ever, the number of homes in foreclosure with mortgages serviced by U.S. national banks and savings and loans topped the 1-million mark, according to figures released Monday by the Office of Thrift Supervision and the Office of the Comptroller of the Currency.

The percentage of prime borrowers whose loans were 60 or more days past due doubled from the July-to-September period a year earlier. And more than half of all homeowners whose payments had been lowered through modification plans defaulted again. (more)

Unemployment funds going ‘absolutely broke’

The recession's jobless toll is draining unemployment-compensation funds so fast that according to federal projections, 40 state programs will go broke within two years and need $90 billion in loans to keep issuing the benefit checks.

The shortfalls are putting pressure on governments to either raise taxes or shrink the aid payments.

Debates over the state benefit programs have erupted in South Carolina, Nevada, Kansas, Vermont and Indiana. And the budget gaps are expected to spread and become more acute in the coming year, compelling legislators in many states to reconsider their operations. (more)

Bernanke Tightens The Noose Brace Yourself For A Hard Landing

Ben Bernanke has been a bigger disaster than Hurricane Katrina. But the senate is about to re-up him for another four-year term. What are they thinking? Bernanke helped Greenspan inflate the biggest speculative bubble of all time, and still maintains that he never saw it growing. Right. How can retail housing leap from $12 trillion to $21 trillion in 7 years (1999 to 2006) without popping up on the Fed's radar?
Bernanke was also a staunch supporter of the low interest rate madness which led to the crash. Greenspan never believed that it was the Fed's job to deal with credit bubbles. "The free market will fix itself", he thought. He was the nation's chief regulator, but adamantly opposed to the idea of government regulation. It makes no sense at all. Here' a quote from Greenspan in 2002: "I do have an ideology. My judgment is that free, competitive markets are by far the unrivaled way to organize economies. We have tried regulation, none meaningfully worked." Bernanke is no different than Greenspan; they're two peas in the same pod. Everyone could see what the Fed-duo was up to. (more)

Forget the Happy Talk: Longer, Deeper Recession Lies Ahead, Execs Warn

If you google “recession easing,” you will find articles all the way back to April quoting Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke as saying that the recession is easing, and that the economy is “improving modestly.” Newspapers and TV news programs too, on their own, have run rose-tinged stories about how things are bad but getting better.

Spins get put on every hint of good news, as when last month “only” 11,000 jobs were lost (a story that was quickly followed by an “unexpected” jump in new unemployment claims by 474,000 in early December).

What didn’t get widely reported was a report by the Association of Financial Professionals, a trade association that includes CFOs, treasurers, comptrollers, and risk managers of mid-sized and large corporations, which asked over 1000 of these executives the question: “When do you expect your company to begin hiring again?” (more)

Fund Boss Made $7 Billion in the Panic

In this comeback year for investors, David Tepper may have scored one of the biggest paydays of all.

Mr. Tepper's hedge-fund firm has racked up about $7 billion of profit so far this year—with Mr. Tepper on track to earn more than $2.5 billion for himself, according to people familiar with the matter. That is among the largest one-year takes in recent years.

Behind the wins: a bet worth billions of dollars that America would avoid a repeat of the Great Depression.

Through February and March, Mr. Tepper scooped up beaten-down bank shares as many investors were running for the exits. Day after day, Mr. Tepper bought Bank of America Corp. shares, then trading below $3, and Citigroup Inc. preferred shares, when that stock was under $1. One of his investors insisted more carnage loomed. Friends who shared his bullish beliefs were wary of aping his moves amid speculation that the government was about to nationalize the big banks. (more)

Schiff Report Dec 21st 2009 - interest rates, death tax, health care