Saturday, October 22, 2011

Why I Like This Homebuilder -- Even in the Struggling Housing Market: NVR

You might not be feeling too upbeat about the housing sector, but you cannot afford to ignore this homebuilder.

NVR (NYSE: NVR - News), one of the largest homebuilders, managed to notch higher sales in its third quarter, but couldn't go beyond a flat bottom line. OK, so what's good about that?

Well, there are some really interesting things about NVR and its numbers that are worth knowing before tossing the company aside as another poor homebuilder.

Lots to cheer
It seems like homebuyers are finally putting the sweet memories of the first-time homebuyer tax credit behind and plodding back to shop. What else can be the reason behind NVR's 5% rise in third-quarter revenues when its first and second quarters saw miserable sales drops of 13% and 28% year over year, respectively?

Higher orders are a good indication of buyers coming in. NVR's new home orders rose 3%, and settlements were 6% higher from the year-ago quarter. Note how peers are also reporting a flow of orders.

During the most recent quarter, Beazer Homes' (NYSE: BZH - News) orders rose a good 33%, while Standard Pacific (NYSE: SPF - News) saw 6% rise in orders in its last reported quarter. KB Home's (NYSE: KBH - News) third-quarter orders were up by an astonishing 40%. Things are getting interesting in this sector, for sure.

And there's more to cheer as far as NVR's numbers are concerned. Its cancellation rate dropped to 15% from 17.9% a year ago. Backlogs -- a crucial indicator of future revenues -- also went up by 3% in the last quarter. Like orders, backlogs are rising across the board. Lennar's (NYSE: LEN - News) third-quarter backlogs were up by 11%, while Pulte Group's (NYSE: PHM - News) backlogs were up by 2% in its second quarter.

If everything was so good, where was the drag?
NVR's mortgage banking segment has been a drag on its margins. Loan production fell 2%, pulling the segment's operating income down by 34%. It looks like tighter credit requirements are putting pressure on this segment. This sharp drop was why NVR's bottom line remained flat at $43.4 million in spite of its homebuilding segment doing well.

Dodging pitfalls
An interesting factor that helped NVR stay above water during the slowdown and also sets it apart from peers is its less-land policy. NVR has tried to keep itself insulated from land-related volatility issues by avoiding buying land upfront.

However, some months back, NVR deviated by agreeing to buy a big land portfolio in its most focused Washington, D.C. metro area. How well this will work for NVR is yet to be seen, since this region might also be slowing down a bit.

The Foolish bottom line
I'm really glad to see NVR's homebuilding segment doing well. I've mentioned before how strong this company's balance sheet is. NVR has also been aggressively repurchasing shares, creating a lot of shareholder value.

The housing markets may also be showing early signs of recovering. And in such a case, I do not hesitate to say that once things really start building up in the sector, NVR could be the best bet around.

A Conversation with Martin Armstrong

Why Economists Get It Wrong

by James J Puplava CFP with Martin Armstrong,

Renowned economist Martin Armstrong and founder of Princeton Economics joins Jim Puplava this week in a wide-ranging discussion covering issues such as why economists get it wrong, the European credit mess, the culmination of the sovereign debt crisis by 2015, and why the next bull market will be in volatility. offers a collection of research from Martin Armstrong, a world renown economist and the creator of the Economic Confidence Model, the author of the Greatest Bull Market in History, and founder of Princeton Economics. This web site is a resource to stay up to date on Martin Armstrong’s business accomplishments, legal battles, and views on the global economy.

Click Here to Listen to the Interview

Original Source @

It's Time To Invest In Pipelines : AMLP, EEP, ENB, EPD, ICFI, SRV

With the markets returning to their state of ebb and flow, many investors feel frustrated to say the least. As the market reacts and overreacts to each piece of good or bad news, volatility has returned with a vengeance. The energy sector could be the poster child for this increased volatility. Oil prices have risen and fallen continually over the last few months and currently sits at $85 a barrel. Events such as the Egyptian and Libyan uprisings have not helped matters much, sending crude prices on a roller coaster. For investors in the sector, it's enough to make your head spin. However, there are ways to profit from the world's increasing demand for energy without relying on the direction of oil and natural gas prices.

Big Money in Pipes and Storage
Energy investors may want to take a look at the companies that provide the vast energy infrastructure crisscrossing North America. This backbone of pipelines, switching terminals and petroleum storage tanks is a vital link in getting traditional energy from the wellhead to the processing facilities. For investors, the key is in how these firms make money. Functioning like a toll-road, profits for the pipeline operators are based on the volume of oil or gas that flows through their pipes, not on what that liquid is worth. In addition, many of these pipeline firms operate with "take or pay" style contracts, which require users to pay regardless of whether the capacity is used or not. Many also act with regulated fee amounts as well as with inflation adjustments. This allows investors to profit from the long-term trend of increasing energy demand, while providing a backstop against price swings. (Find out how to take advantage of this market without having to open a futures account. For more, see A Guide To Investing In Oil Markets.)

This was evident during the last financial crisis. When oil fell from $145 down to $40, many E&P firms were hit hard as the price of oil no longer covered the cost of production. Meanwhile, the pipeline firms saw their earnings decline only slightly, remained profitable and raised their dividends during that time.

In addition, the sheer number of new prolific energy fields such as the Bakken, Eagle Ford and Marcellus are greatly increasing the demand for oil and gas transport. Analysts estimate that the 328,000 miles of natural gas transmission and gathering pipelines won't be enough to tap America's natural gas boom. A study by ICF International (Nasdaq:ICFI) shows that the U.S. will need to add about 1,400 miles worth of new pipelines each year and both the United States and Canada will require a total midstream natural gas investment of about $205.2 billion from 2011 to 2035.

Adding Energy's Toll Roads
For investors, the natural gas and oil pipeline owners offer a great way to stay invested in the energy sector without directly worrying about crude oil prices. Funds like the ALPS Alerian MLP ETF (Nasdaq:AMLP) or The Cushing MLP Total Return (NYSE:SRV) make interesting broad choices for a portfolio. However, there are plenty of individual firms that might be better picks.

Enbridge Energy Partners LP (NYSE:EEP) is a great way to play the growth in pipeline capacity. The firm already operates thousands of miles worth of gas and liquid pipelines, but has been aggressively expanding its capacity. The company recently struck a deal with its general partner Enbridge (NYSE:ENB) to upgrade portions of its lines in western Canada and the U.S. In addition, the firm has partnered with Enterprise Products Partners L.P. (NYSE:EPD) to build the Wrangler pipeline, which will connect the oil-storage hub of Cushing, Oklahoma to refiners on the Gulf Coast. Both EEP and ENB make great choices and yield 7.4 and 2.9%, respectively.

El Paso Pipeline Partners (NYSE:EPB) makes another compelling portfolio choice. The firms new Ruby pipeline, which feeds natural gas into California's Pacific Gas & Electric's (NYSE:PCG) interconnect, has seen its usage explode over its short life span. Shares of El Paso yield 5.8%.

The Bottom Line
With volatility returning to the energy sector, investor's may want to focus on the pipeline firms. Their boring and steady characters make them ideal plays in this volatile market. The proceeding firms along with Boardwalk Pipeline (NYSE:BWP) make ideal selections.

Just Poked Nose over 200 Day Moving Average

After some stalling at 1134 here in the first 50 minutes, we see the S&P 500 now poking its nose over the 200 day moving average at 1136. This is the first visit over that level since the second day of August. Those who have been waiting for that clearance of the 200 day (computers and human) probably will jump in now. Likewise, bears who have been shorting against this level, tend to throw in the towel - which is why sometimes we see reversals once both these moves happen.

As always the close is more important than the intraday action but seems difficult to think bears will take a major stand ahead of a happy meeting Sunday in Europe. A close above 1240 or so would be a positive.

Next up for bulls to attack are those lows of June, they look roughly at 1265 to 1270.

If you are keeping track at home, we are now up nearly 15% in the S&P 500 from two weeks ago Tuesday when I believe it was a rumor that China was willing to buy European debt created a huge reversal at 3 PM that day (that was the day the market rallied some 4% in an hour). This has been one of the greatest moves of the rally since March 2009 in terms of ferocity in a short duration.

Lindsey Williams on The Vinny Eastwood Show Oct 11 2011

Lindsey Williams "The Elite have a 2012 plan of collapse" on The Vinny Eastwood Show Oct 11 2011 ,Lindsay Williams delivers a prophetic message straight from the mouths and plans of the elite who he has stayed in touch with since his time as a pastor on a major oil pipeline near Gull Island Alaska. He's had death threats and predicted consecutively the huge changes in oil prices in our recent history.

Lindsey Williams on The Vinny Eastwood Show Oct 11 2011 : "The Elite have a 2012 plan of collapse" 2012 will be the most startling , eventful unusual year in 2000 years , all private fortunes will be lost by 2012 if they are secured in paper 401Ks IRAs Bank accounts pension funds stocks etc..if it is written on a paper it is worth the paper it is written on , security and food stamps payment will continue on until the US defaults on its debt in 2 to 3 years , gas price will rise like a rocket at some point , the elite have a devil's messiah for 2012 , the last thing the elite want is riots in the streets , the elite are in discord in many cases they hate each others but they work together

The Economist - 22nd October-28th October 2011

The Economist - 22nd October-28th October 2011
English | 140 pages | HQ PDF | 110.00 Mb

download it here

4 Energy Stocks To Watch : BEXP, GMXR, KOG, MHR

The recent plunge in the stock market has put some energy stocks into free-fall as investors start to discount a fearful liquidity scenario for many of these companies. The combination of falling commodity prices, the resulting threat to the funding of capital plans and possible equity issuance has proven to be too much to handle.

Williston Basin Player
Kodiak Oil and Gas
(NYSE:KOG) reached a high of $7.70 per share in March 2011 as investors eagerly sought out operators leveraged to crude oil in general, and the Bakken formation in particular.

The stock continued to trend down with the general market through the summer and early fall, losing about 15% of its value until the bottom dropped out in late September, after the company announced the purchase of additional leasehold acreage in the Bakken play for $235 million.

While adding acreage in an oil play is normally a time of celebration for many investors, the market was not pleased by the purchase, and seems to have incorporated a worst-case scenario for Kodiak Oil and Gas with falling oil prices cutting cash flows and forcing it to raise equity. (For related reading, see Peak Oil: What To Do When The Wells Run Dry.)

Kodiak Oil and Gas even took extra precautions to make this purchase palpable to the market. The properties acquired were partially developed with production at 3,000 barrels of oil equivalent (BOE) per day, providing cash flow for the company to help develop its acreage.

Kodiak Oil and Gas secured a $115 million increase on the company's credit facility to help pay for the new properties. The company plans to borrow funds and use cash on hand to pay for the acreage.

Other small cap exploration and production companies find themselves afflicted with this market pessimism. Magnum Hunter Resources (NYSE:MHR), which is active in the Marcellus Shale in Pennsylvania and West Virginia, reached $7.90 per share over the summer and has dropped over the last two weeks by more than 60%.

GMX Resources (Nasdaq:GMXR) has taken a similar plunge, from a high of $5.63 per share down to under $2 per share. The company was primarily focused on the Haynesville Shale and Cotton Valley formation, but has acquired acreage in the Bakken and Niobrara plays to focus on oil and liquids.

Chicken Little?
While dilution of ownership is a legitimate concern for an investor, it is not necessarily a death knell for a company. In May 2009, Brigham Exploration Company (Nasdaq:BEXP) issued 32 million shares of common stock, with the proceeds used to pay down debt and restart the company's operated program in the Bakken formation.

This offering increased shares outstanding by 65% and led to a 23% decline for the stock the following day. Brigham Exploration Company priced its offering at $2.75 per share, and a year later the stock was above $20 per share.

The Bottom Line
Investors with nerves of steel that have a higher appetite for risk should take a look at the many energy stocks that have been thrown out by the market over the last two weeks. If fears of a recession turn out to be unfounded, the return on these stocks may be too good to pass up.

A Generation Forgotten

In September, the Census Bureau released its annual estimates of U.S. household and family incomes.

The report does not make pleasant reading. Indeed, much within the survey questions a central premise of the American Dream: that each generation builds upon what prior generations have bequeathed to attain new levels of comfort and security. If the trends in the Census Bureau’s survey persist, it may be that the best hope for the current generation of Americans coming of age is to at least hold on to the material comforts their parents have known and enjoyed; or, if sacrifices must be made, to manage the loss of affluence known in a gentle slide rather than a sudden descent.

Much ink has already been expended on the fall in median family and household incomes since the Great Recession commenced. Overall, the Census Bureau survey reports median family incomes have declined by 1.6 percent from 2007 to 2010. It is not the magnitude of the decline but the fact of a decline which is significant. The last three years constitute the only rolling three year period since 1947, when the Census Bureau first began estimating U.S. family incomes, that the median family income has declined. And, these figures are in nominal dollars, unadjusted for the effects of inflation. Adjusted for inflation, the contraction is sharper.

This pain has not been shared equally. Families just starting out (in the 15 to 24 year age range) saw a 14.7 percent decline in median income from 2007 to 2010. Families in the next age cohort – 25 to 34 years – experienced a 3.9 percent decline in nominal median income. Every age cohort below 65, except one – the 55 to 64 year group – saw nominal median family incomes decline from 2007 to 2010. What of families in the 65 years and older group? Well those families witnessed a 9.4 percent increase in median income from 2007 to 2010. Despite the recession, senior citizens saw a considerable absolute (and, relative, to other age brackets) increase in median family incomes. This observation is true whether measured in current or constant dollars.

A key reason for this divergence is the relentless increase in Social Security benefits. From December 2007 to December 2010, the average monthly payment under the Old Age and Survivorship Income (OASI) program – what we think of as Social Security – increased by 9.4 percent.

In stark contrast is the precipitous decline in the youngest age group. While this age group has experienced reversals in prior recessions, the median income declines seen have never been of this magnitude. It will take many years, or a spurt of extremely rapid growth, for the generation just starting out to reclaim the ground lost.

But we are not optimistic. There is no lobby or interest group to exert the pressure or influence on their behalf. In the considerations of party politics they are our forgotten generation.

5 Stocks that Are Cheaper Than They Were at the Market Bottom in 2009

It's no big secret how most stocks have been devalued during the past three months. Debt worries in Europe, combined with sluggish economic data in the United States (including a pesky unemployment rate above 9%) have had investors heading for the exit.

Bargain-hunters everywhere have their eyes wide open looking for underpriced equities. What's a little obscured, however, is the fact that some of the market's strongest names are back under their deep lows seen in March of 2009 -- just before the market staged a 70% rally before stalling. Only this time, many of these companies are still quite profitable and are sporting dirt-cheap price-to-earnings (P/E) ratios. Investors looking for monster opportunities may want to start with these five ideas.

1. Staples Inc. (Nasdaq: SPLS)
At less than $15 a share, office-supply retailer Staples Inc. is trading right around its lows from the March 2009 bottom. Things are significantly different this time, though. For starters, despite the pessimistic assumptions that drove Staples from $23 in early 2011 to the current price under $15, earnings are still on the rise. The company has earned $1.24 per share during the past four quarters, translating into a trailing P/E of about 12. With the exception of the plunge in September 2008, that's as cheap as we've seen shares in more than a decade. And just to reiterate the important point, earnings are still growing and are expected to do so again in 2012.

2. Gilead Sciences Inc. (Nasdaq: GILD)
At about $41 per share, Gilead Sciences is about 10% below its low closing price of $45.43 from March of 2009, though it's worth noting how this biotech name tends to trade independently of the market. Still, at a P/E of 12.3, Gilead's shares are as cheap as they've been in years.

What's interesting here is how the company managed to defy the skeptics for so long. Gilead Sciences shares didn't go anywhere in 2009 and took a big hit in 2010, mostly on fears of new legislation and worries about patent expiration. Yet, earnings continued to increase, thanks to its very lucrative HIV drugs. Last quarter's record per-share earnings of $0.93 translated into trailing 12-month earnings of $3.32 per share, which is almost a record as well. It may be a tad soon to worry about Gilead just yet. [Gilead is one stock David Sterman named as one of his favorite "forever stocks" in this article.]

3. The Bank of New York Mellon Corp. (NYSE: BK)

Banks haven't exactly been the easiest stocks to own of late, but the market may be throwing out the baby with the bathwater. While Bank of America (NYSE: BAC) continues to struggle (and attract the spotlight because of it), other banks are back into a groove and turning a profit again. The Bank of New York Mellon is one of them. The regional bank is almost as profitable as it was in the heyday of late 2007 and early 2008, but shares are priced right around where they were in March of 2009. This is a stock you should look at more closely -- the upside could be significant.

4. Hewlett-Packard Co. (NYSE: HPQ)
Yes, the personal computer giant is getting out of the PC business, leaving it only with printer, networking and service divisions. Given that the personal computer division was the biggest revenue generator last quarter, the announcement was not well-received --shares have plunged from $32 to lows under $22, which is well under the March of 2009 low price around $26.

While the selloff makes sense on the surface, this is a case where the market may have overreacted, not realizing there's a flipside to this coin. The PC business was a very low-margin operation, and the top and bottom lines for it have been struggling for a while. Moreover, with a P/E of only 6.3, the impact of the pending spinoff has been more than priced in.

5. Best Buy Co. Inc. (NYSE: BBY)

Finally, though it's been riddled by red flags, Best Buy may finally be at a point where there's no room left to price in more bad news. The electronics retailer has already suggested holiday hiring will be modest this year, hinting at a modest expectation for holiday traffic. It's also considering the closure of a few stores in the U.K., and has opted to sell its Napster music service as well. While the refocusing should ultimately be a healthy move, it's the "in-the-meantime" revenue adjustment that has pulled the stock from the $44 area late last year to the current price of about $25.

At a trailing P/E of about 8 and a forward-looking P/E (2012) of about 7, enough is enough already. Best Buy isn't going out of business; it's just optimizing its operation.

Risks to Consider: Bottom fishing with stocks is a little like trying to catch a falling knife -- sometimes you can get cut if you're not careful. The fact of the matter is, though, these stocks have been excessively beaten down. But this doesn't mean the market can't choose to push them lower. On the other hand...

Action to take--> As difficult as it is to buy into a stock while it's falling, just bear in mind stocks were plunging in the first half of March in 2009 as well, and that was the best entry point to buy stocks of the past three years. The market rallied nearly 70% off of that low, barely looking back as it was doing so. In fact, it didn't look back at all until four months later, after a 25% rally was under its belt. Sometimes you just have to take the plunge and any of these stocks could be worth taking the plunge on.

Forget The NYSE Shorts, And Be Very Afraid Of The Resumption In Bearish EUR Sentiment (And Squeeze)

Just when one thought the oversold status of the all important Euro (by way of the market defining EURUSD) may have peaked and short covering resumed, we once again find that the technical reason (not to be confused with the fundamental one which has to do with EUR repatriation by French banks) why the EUR continues to melt up, and drag all 1.000 correlated assets along with it, is that after a brief retracement in mega bearish exposure in the currency as of last week, bearish sentiment once again returned, and after 8,902 net short non-commercial contracts were covered in the weekend ended October 11, the subsequent most recent week saw another 3,925 net shorts added according to the CFTC's COT report, bringing net short exposure back to near 2011 'highs' at -77,720 contracts. This is, to put it mildly, disturbing, because while stock pundits look at NYSE short interest, in this day and age of ultra low volume and liquidity algo trading, the only real transaction occur on the uber-levered margin: i.e., the EURUSD, where one pip delta translates in roughly 2 DJIA points. But it is explicitly disturbing because while the EURUSD has just closed at 1.39, or the highest (resistance) level since early September when the pair broke down, the net short interest now is well over double when the EURUSD first traded at this level.

Said otherwise, the squeeze can easily continue once the weak hands throw in the towel and force another major short covering rally, which drags the stock market with it. That is of course, unless reality finally manifests itself, the market realizes that all European bail out plans are unmathematical hodgepodge, and the EUR trades down to its fair value somewhere well lower (at least until the Fed's threats of MBS QE become reality). Then all fiat bets are off.

50 Amazing Numbers About The Economy

Here's some easy reading for your Friday afternoon. Did you know that...

50. From 1948 until 2007, the average duration of unemployment was 13.5 weeks. Today, it's 40.5 weeks.

49. In 1982, a 30-year mortgage carried an interest rate of 17.6%. Today, it's 4.1%. On a $250,000 loan, that's the difference between a monthly payment of $3,686 versus $1,210.

48. In 2000, 69% of businesses offered workers health insurance. By 2009, just 60% did, according to the Kaiser Family Foundation.

47. In 1952, corporate taxes were 6.1% of GDP, and employment taxes were 1.8% of GDP. In 2009, corporate taxes were 1% of GDP, and employment taxes were 6.3% of GDP.

46. The day after Standard & Poor's downgraded U.S. Treasuries was the second best day for Treasuries in modern history.

45. "Just 1 in 7 U.S. workers is of normal weight without a chronic health problem," according to The Wall Street Journal, citing Gallup data.

44. Adjusted for inflation, nationwide home prices have dropped 8.5% since 1979. Unrelated: 60% of homeowners say a major reason they bought a home is because they think it will make a good retirement investment.

43. The markup AT&T (NYS: T) charges for a single text message ($0.20) compared with a standard mobile data package ($25 for 2 gigs) is roughly 10 million percent.

42. Tax evasion has added an estimated $3 trillion to the national debt over the past decade, according to David Callahan of Demos, citing Internal Revenue Service data.

41. According to The Wall Street Journal, "every year 17,000 American-trained masters and doctoral students leave the U.S. to find work elsewhere."

40. Over the past 25 years, college tuition has increased at nearly four times the rate of broader inflation.

39. Health care for an average family now runs $19,393 a year, according to the Milliman Medical Index. It was about half that much in 2002.

38. Power to the people! According to The Los Angeles Times: "Some 75% of respondents said they were following the [California] budget debate, yet only 16% were aware that state spending has shrunk by billions of dollars over the last three years."

37. California will spend $5.7 billion on its main public universities this year, and $9.6 billion on prisons, according to The Bay Citizen.

36. The labor force participation rate for men has dropped from 87% in 1948 to 71% today.

35. The personal savings rate in August was 4.5%. Since 1959, it has averaged 7%. Returning to that level would divert more than $200 billion a year from consumer spending into saving.

34. 5.5 million Americans are unemployed and not receiving unemployment benefits. Last year, that number was 1.4 million.

33. The U.S. government provides health care for a minority of its population (elderly and poor) at a greater cost per citizen than many European countries spend on universal coverage.

32. As a percentage of GDP, federal taxes in 2010 were the lowest since 1950.

31. Between 2007 and 2009, those with a bachelor's degree saw the employment-to-population ratio fall by just 0.5%. For those without a bachelor's degree, it fell by more than 2%.

30. Household debt payments as a percentage of income are now at the lowest level since 1994.

29. Despite record federal deficits, total debt throughout the economy -- public plus private -- as a percentage of GDP has been dropping since 2008. Households are shedding debt faster than the government can go into it.

28. Just not student debt: Total student loans outstanding are expected to reach $1 trillion this year. The average student now leaves college with nearly $23,000 of debt. As Time pointed out, "Students today are borrowing double the amount they did ten years ago -- after adjusting for inflation.

27. Total state and local pension shortfalls now equal $4.4 trillion, according to State Budget Solutions.

26. In 2000, interest payments on the national debt totaled $222 billion. By 2009, the debt had more than doubled, but interest payments were $186 billion. Lower interest rates have saved taxpayers trillions of dollars.

25. According to The New York Times, only 23% of Americans benefit from the mortgage interest tax deduction, yet 93% support it.

24. For every $1,000 decline in home values, Americans reduce spending by $20 to $70 a year, according to the Congressional Budget Office.

23. Without mortgage equity withdrawal -- people using their homes as ATMs -- the U.S. economy would have been in recession for most of the 2001-2006 period.

22. The percentage of Americans covered by health insurance fell from 86.9% in 2000 to 83.7% in 2010. It has declined in eight of the past 10 years.

21. Nationwide real estate values have declined by about $7 trillion since 2006.

20. CEOs of S&P 500 companies are entitled to receive an average of $22 million upon being fired, according to GMI. "In total, it would cost shareholders $10.8 billion to fire the CEOs of all of the companies in the S&P 500," it writes.

19. One percent of households captured 52% of all income gains from 1993-2008.

18. Just 400 people earned 10% of all capital gains in 2007. Between 2000 and 2007, the top 400 taxpayers captured about 2% of all economic growth.

17. People spend their money on different sets of goods and services. The richest 10% of Americans had an inflation rate that was about 6% higher than the bottom 10% between 1994 and 2005.

16. According to former White House budget advisor Peter Orszag: "In 1990, about 63 percent of business income in the U.S. took the form of wages and other types of labor compensation. ... By 2005, that figure had dropped to 61 percent. And by the middle of this year, it had fallen to 58 percent. ... The difference from 1990 to today -- about 5 percentage points or so of private-sector income -- amounts to more than $500 billion a year."

15. Private jobs growth over the past two years has been faster than it was from 2001-2003. Public job losses have been a major factor in our current jobs crisis.

14. If federal, state, and local governments hadn't been slashing jobs since 2009, today's unemployment rate would be nearly a full percentage point lower.

13. The White House -- famously optimistic throughout all administrations -- forecasts that the unemployment rate won't return to pre-recession levels until 2016.

12. According to the National Review, "[General Motors (NYS: GM) ] has 96,000 employees but provides health benefits to a million people."

11. While gold hit record highs this summer, the yield on Treasury Inflation-Protected Securities, or TIPS, implied a forecast of near record low inflation.

10. According to author Matt Ridley, it took an average person 4,700 hours of work to afford a Ford (NYS: F) Model T in 1908. Today, it takes an average person 1,000 hours of work to afford an ordinary car.

9. Adjusted for inflation, the first Apple (NAS: AAPL) Macintosh cost $5,440. Today's iPad costs $500, and is outrageously more advanced.

8. About half of all Tweets are derived from 20,000 people -- or just 0.05% of Twitter members.

7. UBS estimates that illegal lending in China amounts to $630 billion a year, or about 10% of the country's gross domestic product.

6. Only 2.7% of what Americans spend their money on are goods and services from China. 88.5% is on American-made goods and services.

5. Cash flow among S&P 500 companies set a new all-time record last year, at $1.2 trillion.

4. Between dividends and buybacks, S&P 500 companies returned $4.3 trillion to shareholders from 2003 to 2010.

3. According to the Hedge Fund Research index, hedge funds as a group returned 19.6% between March 2009 and May 2011. Broad stock market indexes in the developed world returned 114% during that period.

2. Food prices invariably come up when people talk about inflation. But average disposable income has risen twice as fast as food prices over the past 50 years. There's been fairly steady food deflation over time.

1. America is still by far the largest economy in the world, nearly three times the size of China's or Japan's economy, and nearly five times the size of Germany's. We have the best schools, the deepest financial system, the most advanced innovation, and the brightest entrepreneurs.