Gary D. Halbert

  • Obama's Tax Policy: None Dare Call It Welfare

    We have recently learned the details of President-elect Obama's massive income tax overhaul, and the plan is much worse than we had anticipated. Obama's liberal tax plan would give annual tax rebates to millions of Americans who already pay NO income taxes whatsoever. Giving government tax rebate checks to those who already pay zero income taxes is nothing short of expanding the welfare state (or socialism as I prefer to call it). Worst of all, if Obama gets his massive tax plan approved, it will mean that a majority of Americans will pay little or no income taxes, while the so-called "wealthy" will foot the rest of the bill. If we reach such a point, there will be little to no chance of true tax reform for the foreseeable future. Read what follows very carefully....
  • Support Wanes For Obama's Huge Stimulus Plan

    The Senate finally passed its version of President Obama's near $1 trillion economic "stimulus" package. But as Americans saw that this so-called stimulus package is loaded with pork-barrel spending and does not include nearly enough in tax cuts and direct incentives, public support for it plummeted. The Republicans' alternative plans that proposed more in tax cuts were ignored (of course). I have numerous problems with the giant stimulus program, especially regarding the "protectionism" elements as you will see. Finally, earlier today Treasury Secretary Geithner announced a new plan to spend $2-$3 trillion to bail out banks, buy troubled assets, unfreeze the credit markets, etc., etc. I will have more to say about this as the details become available....
  • Democrats' Conundrum - Should Hillary Drop Out?

    The Democratic presidential race continues to heat up following Hilary's recent win in Pennsylvania. Yet Obama still leads her in pledged delegates and in the popular vote (excluding Florida and Michigan). Due to the Dem's system of "apportionment" - wherein both candidates get some portion of the delegates, unlike the GOP's winner-take-all system - the race is now pretty much a stalemate....
  • On the Economy & Obama's Trillions

    Most (but not all) of the economic reports over the last month or so have been positive, and more and more forecasters now believe that GDP growth will be slightly positive in the 3Q. Unfortunately, we don't get our first 3Q GDP estimate until the end of October. The latest GDP estimate for the 2Q was unchanged at -1.0%, which was better than expected. I will cover the latest encouraging (and not so encouraging) economic news just below.

    Next, on Friday, August 21, the Obama administration quietly announced that the White House Office of Management & Budget revised upward its long-term federal deficit projections to fall in line with those of the Congressional Budget Office. The White House finally admitted that its economic assumptions were too optimistic - to the tune of $2 trillion over the next 10 years. So now it's official - even President Obama admits he will more than double the national debt in the next 10 years, which will likely lead to another financial crisis.

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  • Best Critique of Obama I’ve Ever Read

    The holidays sneaked up on me faster than usual this year, what with a couple of extra business projects that required a lot more time than I expected over the last few months. Given a number of year-end deadlines, I have elected to reprint an excellent article today by Peter Ferrara that is perhaps the best critique of President Obama that I have ever read. If you are an Obama fan, you probably don’t want to read this; on the other hand, maybe you should.

    Ferrara succinctly examines Obama’s upbringing, his early professional life, his liberal ideology, his ascendency into politics, his becoming President of the United States and his policies since occupying the White House. This is a very interesting and insightful read, especially in light of the challenging economic and financial times we find ourselves in.

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    Posted to Forecasts & Trends by Gary D. Halbert on 12-27-2011
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  • The Worst Economic Recovery in a Lifetime

    I hope everyone reading this had a memorable Independence Day holiday. We certainly did with lots of family and friends at our home on Lake Travis, and with lots of cooking on my part (but unfortunately, no fireworks this year due to the severe drought in Central Texas). July 4th is one of my favorite national holidays.

    Due to the short week, I have elected to reprint a surprising new study that has just been released by the Congressional Joint Economic Committee (JEC). The JEC is a bipartisan committee including 10 Senators and 10 House Representatives, evenly divided between Republicans and Democrats. The JEC’s main purpose is to make a continuing study of matters relating to the US economy.

    The latest study from the JEC, which was developed at the request of two Republican members of the Committee, compares the current economic recovery with previous recessions and recoveries. The conclusion: economic conditions are worse today than in any recovery since at least World War II.

    Because the study was commissioned by two Republicans, the analysis includes some partisan statements, unfortunately. However, the data and charts in this study are accurate, and this is the worst economic recovery in at least 70 years. I have written often this year about this disappointing economic recovery, and this relatively brief analysis sums it up very well. It is reprinted in its entirety below, including over a dozen charts and graphs, so it will print longer than usual.

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    Posted to Forecasts & Trends by Gary D. Halbert on 07-05-2011
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  • “King Dollar” Is Back – Or Is It?

    The US Dollar has surged higher since the middle of this year. Yet most Americans pay little attention to the fluctuations in our currency, even though most of us get paid exclusively in dollars and spend exclusively in dollars. Since most of us don’t...
  • Economic Recovery vs. Rising Unemployment

    This Thursday, all eyes will be on the 'advance' estimate of 3Q GDP, and most analysts expect it to be positive and confirm that the US economy emerged from the recession in the July-September quarter. Yet even if the GDP report is positive on Thursday, we all know that the unemployment rate (currently 9.8%) continues to rise and is likely to go up for at least several more months.

    If the government counted everyone who is unemployed, or is working part-time because they can't find a full-time job, the real US unemployment rate was 17% as of the end of September. So even if the recession 'officially' ended in the 3Q based on this Thursday's GDP report, this economy is far from out of the woods. And if the dollar continues to fall, even more dire consequences (ie - a double-dip recession) are likely to follow. It's a lot to cover in one letter, so let's get started.

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  • Dalbar Update: Investors Still Lagging The Market

    The Dalbar organization recently completed the 15th update of their landmark Quantitative Analysis of Investor Behavior (QAIB) Study. As long-time readers know, I have often quoted statistics from these annual updates that show average investors receive inferior long-term returns when compared to gains posted by stock and bond mutual funds. The reason, by and large, is that investors switch from fund to fund chasing hot returns. In doing so, they often end up with low returns, and sometimes even losses. Most interesting, however, is that the 2009 Dalbar QAIB Study update finally comes to the realization that traditional buy-and-hold approaches do not work, and that investors continue to panic and trade out of stocks when losses run high. In other words, emotions often trump rational investor behavior. This week, I'll update you on the most recent Dalbar Study findings, and also discuss our solution to emotional trading that we discovered back in 1995.

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  • A Eulogy For Buy-And-Hold Investing

    I have recently written about the demise of buy-and-hold investment strategies sold under names such as asset allocation, passive investing, index investing, Modern Portfolio Theory, etc., etc. However, there are those in the financial services industry who are trying to revive this relic of a bygone bull market. This week, I'm going to take on those who support buy-and-hold strategies, and tell you why they may have vested interests that won't allow them to let go of this failed investment strategy. I'll also update the performance of two of the actively managed programs I wrote about in 2008. I encourage you to take out your year-end investment account statements and compare them to these programs....
  • Healthcare Reform or Government Takeover?

    President Obama addressed a rare joint session of Congress on September 9 when he spoke at length about his desire to substantially reform America’s healthcare system. Whether you are among the apprx. 56% of Americans who now oppose the healthcare reform bill in the House, or you are among the apprx. 43% who support it (latest Rasmussen poll), it is important to know the facts - a number of which the president failed to address or misrepresented in his speech.

    While I have refrained from writing at length on the healthcare reform debate, I feel the issue is just too important, and too politically charged, not to speak out. In the pages that follow, we will delve into some of the biggest problems and challenges with the House healthcare bill, H.R. 3200 - America's Affordable Health Choices Act of 2009. Given that there is so much misinformation on healthcare reform out there, on both sides, maybe this will help.

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  • Stratfor: Odds of War with Iran Spiking

    In just the last few weeks, we have learned several disturbing new things about Iran's nuclear capabilities. First, we discovered that Iran has a large secret uranium enrichment facility inside a mountain south of Tehran that we didn't previously know about. Second, shortly thereafter, the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), the U.N. nuclear oversight group, said that Iran is much more advanced in its nuclear program than the IAEA had thought previously. According to the report, Iran now has all the data needed to design a nuclear weapon.

    Third, was a revelation in the first days of October by the Times of London which reported that Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu traveled to Moscow on September 7 to charge that Russian scientists and engineers are working directly with Iran on its nuclear weapons program. This intelligence suggests that Iran may be much further along in developing nuclear weapons than the international community previously believed.

    To give us insights on these latest revelations about Iran and its nuclear ambitions, we turn to our good friends at Stratfor.com this week. Please read what follows very carefully.

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  • On The Economy & The CBO's Credibility

    I felt really bad about sending out last week's E-Letter in which I predicted that we will face another serious financial crisis and perhaps another depression sometime in the next several years. But later that same day, the latest poll by Fox News/Opinion Dynamics showed that 79% of registered voters believe that an economic collapse is still possible. 84% of Republicans, 80% of Independents and 71% of Democrats all agree that the worst may not be over. Obviously, there are a LOT of Americans that agree with me that Obama's trillion-dollar deficits and the skyrocketing national debt represent the biggest threat to our economic and financial futures.

    This week, we take a look at the latest economic reports, most of which suggest that growth this year will fall well short of the 5.6% rise in GDP in the 4Q. We also review the recent actions in the stock and bond markets, both of which have had their share of surprises. And finally, we will review how the non-partisan Congressional Budget Office 'scores' major pieces of legislation in terms of their overall cost. You may be surprised to learn that Congress can game the system and get just about any CBO score they want - as was the case with ObamaCare.

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  • Obama's Assault on the Poor

    During the 2008 presidential campaign, then-candidate Barack Obama promised he would cut the taxes of 95% of working Americans. Most agree that he delivered on this promise with the 'Making Work Pay Tax Credit' (part of the $787 billion stimulus bill), which gave most individuals a paltry $400 refundable tax credit or $800 for working families. So, a question that naturally comes to mind is, how's that tax cut working out for you?

    The answer, unfortunately, is that it's not working out very well at all, especially for those in lower-income households. While the stimulus bill did provide some modest temporary payroll tax cuts for most working Americans, other Obama administration initiatives may effectively negate that relief by increasing taxes and/or the costs of goods and services. These tax and price increases are among the most regressive I've ever seen, meaning that they will hit the poor a lot harder than any other demographic group.

    You won't see this analysis in the mainstream press, so read on to see what kind of change Obama is really bringing about.

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  • My Genes Made Me Do It!

    For many years, I have written about the Dalbar Organization's Qualitative Analysis of Investor Behavior (QAIB) study. Now in its 15th year, this study has consistently documented how investors' returns do not match those of the major market indexes because investors constantly jump from one hot investment to another. While Dalbar showed us how investors returns suffered, we were left wondering why investors acted as they did.

    The answer to the 'why' question may now be found in a recent study showing the part genetics play in a person's investment behavior. The 'Nature or Nurture' study found that up to 45% of a person's investment behavior may be attributable to genetics. Some genetic influences are good while others are not. The Nature or Nurture study also found that genetic investment behavior can persist even after considerable investment education. In other words, nature trumps nurture.

    I recognized long ago how some investors can be their own worst enemies, and now I know that their genetics are likely at fault. Fortunately, I developed a way to overcome some of the detrimental genetic behaviors long ago. If you've ever made a bad investment decision and kicked yourself later on for doing so, you need to read this week's E-Letter.

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