December 2009 - Forecasts & Trends

Forecasts & Trends is much more than just investment blog posts. You need to know the "big picture;" you need to have a "world view," especially in the post-911 world; and you need more information than ever before to be successful in meeting your financial goals. Gary intends to help you do just that.

Forecasts & Trends

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  • The Economy & What To Expect In 2010

    This week, we start by looking at the latest economic data, and how hard it is to get a new job if you become unemployed. We also examine President Obama's new 'jobs program' that would spend what's left of last year's TARP money that was supposed to be repaid to taxpayers. Next, we look at the Democrats' move to raise the national debt ceiling, and what they really have in mind for the debt limit in January.

    Following that, we will look at the disappointing holiday spending levels - as if anyone is surprised. On the plus side, there was at least a little encouraging news on the housing front over the last couple of weeks. Finally, we take a look at some of the forecasts for 2010 - hint, they are all over the board.

    As always, thank you for taking the time to read this weekly E-Letter, and I especially appreciate your comments and suggestions. Happy New Year everyone!!

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  • Healthcare Reform Designed to Fail

    The Senate is set to vote on its version of health care reform, possibly as early as Christmas Eve. If they do, it will be the worst Christmas present ever for the American taxpayer. The last-minute negotiations to obtain enough votes to prevent a Republican filibuster have transformed the bill from an ill-conceived attempt to reform health care to a horribly complex piece of legislation laden with exemptions, special deals and downright payoffs for certain states.

    The current push to pass a health care reform bill - any bill - has exposed the seedy underbelly of American politics. However, this is nothing new. What bothers me most about these health care bills being jammed down our throats despite public opposition is that whatever is in the final bill, it is bound to fail. In fact, you might say it's been designed to fail.

    This week, I'm going to reprint two very good articles, one from Accuracy in Media (AIM) and one from Dick Morris that discuss the major problems with the current healthcare bill before the Senate. Note that these articles were written prior to the late-night negotiations (or, more accurately, bribes) that occurred this past weekend, but they still paint an accurate picture of the health care debate.

    Since this is the last E-Letter before Christmas, I also want to take this opportunity to thank all of my loyal readers and clients and wish you a very Merry Christmas or Happy Hanukkah.

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  • Has the Economy Really Turned the Corner?

    A recent Bloomberg survey found that Americans have grown gloomier about both the economy and the nation's overall direction over the past three months even as the US shows signs of moving from recession to recovery. The Bloomberg survey found that nearly a year into Obama's presidency, only 32% of poll respondents believe the country is headed in the right direction, down from 40% in September.

    Many forecasters were surprised at the Bloomberg survey since several reports show the economy is improving, such as the Index of Leading Economic Indicators that has now risen for six consecutive months. I have a theory that the latest worsening of the mood of the country is correlated with the increasing likelihood that Congress will pass a sweeping healthcare reform bill. Surveys show that 50-60% of Americans are opposed to the healthcare reform bills in Congress.

    This week, I will give you the details from the Bloomberg survey. We will also focus on the economy with a look at the latest reports, along with the Fed's latest 'Beige Book' and its assessment of the economy. In particular, we will look at the fact that lending to consumers and small business continues to decline. This is a real and growing problem. This should be an interesting letter, so let's get started.

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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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  • 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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