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11Feb

GOVERNMENT SHUTDOWN; WHAT WAS IT AND HOW MIGHT IT IMPACT THE ECONOMY?

The news hasn’t been able to say enough about the “government shutdown.” It has been the headline story in many papers and the lead story on many evening newscasts. To say that the government was shut down is something of a misnomer. It was actually a quarter of the government, consisting of about 800,000 employees. The federal government, in large part, gets funded through appropriations determined by the Congress. Not all agencies of the government are funded for the current fiscal year; some are operating under temporary extensions. Those under temporary funding were impacted. Those federal employees who were affected fell into two groups; those who continued to work with deferred pay and those who were actually furloughed. This includes approximately 380,000 federal workers who were placed on temporary leave without receiving pay. The remaining 420,000 workers are considered “essential” and were required to report to work, even if their

28Jan

GROWTH VS VALUE STOCKS PERFORMANCE

For many astute investors, there are often two schools of thought on stock selection; value or growth. Many investors ascribe to the value school because they like the idea of buying out-of-favor stocks that might have had a temporary set-back but could offer a lot of upside. They are more likely to pay dividends and may also be more appealing to those who are risk-adverse. The growth stock camp believes that the stocks they choose offer growth because of profit or revenue growth. These companies reinvest earnings back into the company. The growth camp is often willing to take on a little additional risk and forego dividends in the hopes for a respectable upside. They often also need to be a little more risk tolerant and ride out more potential volatility. The tug-of-war between these two investment philosophies have waxed and waned over the years, as institutional and retail investors

15Jan

HOW DID RETAILERS FARE DURING THE HOLIDAY SEASON?

There was a time when everyone went to the mall to shop. Brick and mortar was the only choice and stores were crowded as a result. When online shopping first appeared, people were skeptical and weary of providing their credit cardinformation or trusting any part of the process. Amazon was making some strides early on with gaining market share, but the appetite for the Internet and shopping had not yet caught on. Those first transactions officially began in 1994, a year before Amazon opened its doors. What prompted most of the shopping from home that year was catalog and TV shopping channel purchases over the phone. Incredibly, that year, there were 98 million consumers who purchased $60 billion of goods from home. Calling an 800-number was the first foray into shopping from home before the real concept of ecommerce exploded. The Internet was still largely a mystery to many back then

7Jan

WHAT IS HAPPENING WITH OIL PRICES?

The price of oil crashed in late 2014, prompting the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC) to begin a price war to regain lost market share. Besides losing market share to other countries outside its own cabal, OPEC was losing share to the United States. During November, oil prices dropped almost 22 percent, which represented the largest monthly percentage drop in 10 years. In response, OPEC may cut production. This cut could represent over a million barrels a day. Oil prices had reached a four-year high in early October. A strange thing happened on the way to the forum, or at least, between the distillery and the gas pump. The United States went from being dependent on oil from the Middle East to being the worlds largest oil producer. It happened very subtly, without much fanfare and it was mostly predictable by those who were believers in the U.S.’s

17Dec

SOME OF THE FANGS HAVE COME OUT OF THE FAANG’S

There’s a strange phenomenon in the stock market that recurs from time to time. A popular stock, that has become a megastar and is shooting for the moon, suddenly falls back to earth; at least part way. The luster becomes tarnished. This is why former Fed Chairman Alan Greenspan coined the phrase “irrational exuberance.” He was speaking of the entire market, but to some degree, individual stocks inspire the same enthusiasm. They may or may not have the greatest valuations, but they are most often exciting companies that have achieved great things. Greenspan used the term in 1996 regarding the tech stock run-up, but it would take another few years before the prediction saw real consequences. And so it has been, with the prestige and reverence paid to the FAANG stocks; the high-flyers who have rewarded investors well and seemed to be on a dizzying trajectory. Who can argue that these market

3Dec

WHAT IS GOING ON WITH BREXIT NEGOTIATIONS?

“Don’t let the door hit you on your way out.” That is an old adage that has been used sarcastically when someone’s exit is mocked. Symbolically, Europe is telling Great Britain just that as fair warning to any other member of the European Union (EU) who might consider an exit. Brits voted in 2016 to make their exit from the EU amid protests and inter-regional disagreement. With the complexity of the original agreement, 45 years ago, the exit from this agreement has made Brexit a challenging event on many levels; politically, economically, socially and legally. While the United Kingdom (U.K.) remains a part of the EU for now, the timeline for negotiating a deal is drawing near. For many Brits, the European Union proved too expensive to belong to, did not offer sufficient vetting on uncontrolled immigration and was out of touch. Their discontent mounted with repeated terrorist attacks within

22Oct

WHAT IS HAPPENING IN TURKEY

Geographically, the country of Turkey stands in an interesting location, straddling two continents, with Eastern Europe at one door and Iran at the other. It has a colorful past with historic roots in the Ottoman and Byzantine empires. It shares borders with Syria, Iraq, Armenia, Georgia, Bulgaria and Greece. Most of the country is considered to be a part of Asia. The country is on the verge of economic collapse with the Turkish lira dropping 40 percent in value against the U.S. dollar. Turkey’s president Recep Tayyip Erdogan has blamed his country’s problems on U.S. sanctions, but many economists blame Erdogan himself, and his zeal for big infrastructure projects with borrowed money, and his basic misunderstanding of economics, for what is largely a homemade crisis. The Erdogan government believes that a failed coup was attempted in 2016. This has resulted in the capture and jailing of a large number of

13Aug

OIL PRICES; WILL THERE BE CONTINUED DREAD AT THE GAS STATION?

The pain at the pump has really hit home for many Americans during the recent holidays with prices that have averaged 73 cents more than a year ago. The average price of regular gas nationwide was $2.26 a year ago. The price of gas on Independence Day was the highest in four years. A barrel of Brent crude increased by five dollars from April to May. More than one variable has been at play creating a surge in the price of oil. The OPEC member countries voted to cut back on oil production in 2016. With demand staying high, and even higher in China, the price of oil, and by extension gasoline, was impacted by the falling supply. The U.S. supplies Saudi Arabia with military weapons, including a $350 billion deal last year. The president has asked the Saudi King to increase oil production. The head of OPEC said that

30Jul

TARIFFS: WILL THEY THROW A WRENCH IN THE MARKET?

For years, the United States has held the distinction of being an economic superpower. We have been the world’s banking center, our currency has been the reserve currency for the world and English has been the language of international business. The U.S.’s economy dwarfs most and few countries were even a close second place in the past. China has had a goal of challenging all of these paradigms. The world moves at such a fast pace today that many geo-political events, that should startle the markets only produce a yawn. The potential for a trade war between the U.S. and its many trading partners offers the prospect for getting Wall Street’s attention. The introduction of tariffs came out of promises made on the campaign trail by the president. As a businessman, he had been dismayed for many years at what he saw as poorly negotiated deals between the U.S. and

2Jul

RETURN TO PAIN AT THE PUMP

Americans had become somewhat complacent about fuel prices in the past few years, enjoying prices at the pump that had dropped from $4.11 in 2008 to $3.64 a gallon in 2012 to $3.37 in 2014 and much further during the next three and a half years. Those sky-high prices of 2008 through 2014, which had been putting a real dent in many people’s budgets, had resolved. Oil producers had a glut of product on their hands and OPEC had even resorted to cutting production. That complacency can be thrown out the window now. In the past five months, gas prices have increased by 50 cents a gallon. Prices at the pump are now hitting levels not seen since 2014. It was that year that a barrel of oil last hit $100. During a period of less than 40 years, a gallon of gas went from 36 cents in 1970 to