Stock Market: Has the hemorrhaging stopped?

U.S. stocks rebounded Tuesday morning after a punishing day on the global markets, sailing away from China’s unslowing slide and renewing hopes of an averted meltdown.

The Dow Jones industrial average jumped 320 points, or 2 percent, shortly after the 9:30 a.m. opening bell, one day after raucous trading plunged the index of 30 blue-chip stocks to its lowest point in 18 months.

The Standard & Poor’s 500, a broader look at the market, jumped 2 percent, while the Nasdaq Composite, an index dense with tech stocks, soared 3 percent.

The sharp start marked the first encouraging news after several days of chaotic trades, in which many large U.S. companies lost billions of dollars in market value amid a global sell-off.

The start, in which all 30 Dow stocks made big gains, could go a long way toward helping investors and workers with 401(k) retirement accounts regain some confidence in global trades.

Equities  really came out of the gate running this morning.  Things weren’t so good for China, even after lowering interest rates.

Compared to most places in Europe and Asia, our stock market is in pretty good shape.  Even with the correction, our indexes were down less than other regions around the world.

Let the bulls go back to running!  This seems like a good time to buy.

Ben Bernanke defends Alexander Hamilton on the 10 spot



Former Fed Chairman Ben Bernanke said he is “appalled” by the treasury secretary’s decision to have Alexander Hamilton split his duty as the face of the $10 bill with a woman.

Though he said secretary Jack Lew’s decision to put a female face on the ten is a “fine idea,” Bernanke made it clear he doesn’t think it should be at Hamilton’s expense.

“Hamilton, the first Secretary of the Treasury, would qualify as among the greatest of our founders for his contributions to achieving American independence and creating the Constitution alone,” Bernanke wrote in a blog post.

Bernanke argued that Hamilton also helped stabilize and strengthen the U.S. financial system in the early days of America, paving the way for a strong economy.

“The importance of Hamilton’s achievement can be judged by the problems that the combination of uncoordinated national fiscal policies and a single currency has caused the Eurozone in recent years,” he wrote, adding that Hamilton’s efforts to consolidate state debts and to create a strong federal fiscal system helped America avoid some of the eurozone’s current issues.

Bernanke added that he supports Lew’s historic decision to put a woman on U.S. paper currency for the first time in more than a century.

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The Roosevelts: stark reminder of better times?

Excerpt from Ken Burns’ ‘The Roosevelts’ Reveals Everything Wrong With Our Current Political Class’  by Joseph Palermo

Ken Burns’ seven-part PBS series on the lives of Theodore, Franklin, and Eleanor Roosevelt, The Roosevelts: An Intimate History, is a remarkable achievement. Burns sheds a poignant new light on the personal and public lives of three monumental figures in 20th Century American history. And in doing so, he illustrates the relative rottenness of the hacks, partisans, and plutocrats who make up the political class that rules America today.

By exploring the lives and times of TR, FDR, and ER Burns shows that in our not-so-distant past the governing institutions of this country were actually responsive to the needs and desires of working-class Americans. This superb and moving portrait is a perfect fit for our times. The utter failure of our current “leaders” is glaring by comparison.

Yes, TR was a warmonger, and FDR signed the order that imprisoned innocent Japanese Americans. There are long lists of both presidents’ failures. But we shouldn’t let those flaws bury the fact that both TR and FDR were not afraid to stand up to big corporations and Wall Street if they viewed their actions as damaging to the country. That alone is probably the biggest difference between those leaders of the early decades of the 20th Century and today.

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The DOW breaks through 16,000 benchmark


New York City (AFP) – The Dow and S&P 500 blasted to new records in early trade Monday fueled by a wave of new Boeing plane orders and continued positive investor sentiment for stocks.

After 90 minutes of trade, the Dow Jones Industrial Average was up 51.92 points (0.33 percent) at 16,013.62, after crossing the 16,000 milestone for the first time.

The broad-based S&P 500 made its first foray above 1,800, adding 1.96 (0.11 percent) at 1,800.14.

The tech-rich Nasdaq Composite Index rose 2.66 (0.07 percent) to 3,988.62.

The biggest gainer in the Dow was Boeing (+2.4 percent), which won more than $100 billion in new orders at the Dubai Airshow on Sunday.

Bring out the champagne.    Where is Steve Randolph?   He usually runs with the bulls…err…bull market that is.  While 16,000 is merely a psychological barrier, it does indicate that investors feel that things will be good 6 months from now.  Apparently they like what they see with Janet Yellen.  She is in no hurry to change things around.

Naturally there are doom and gloomers out there who predict the end of the world as we know it.  In many ways, having money in the stock market can be as risky as betting on the ponies at the race track.  On the other hand, keeping your money in a sock under the bed allows you to be eaten up by inflation.   I have always thought a good mix was the way to go.  One caveat–I am not a bonds person.

The ride might be bumpy this week as investors do some profit taking.  Any advice?  Apparently those who wanted us to buy gold and who knew all the answers are off somewhere licking their wounds.


IRS: Same sex couples may now file jointly

irs map

Same-sex married couples will be allowed to file joint federal tax returns, the same as married heterosexual couples, the Treasury Department and Internal Revenue Service announced Thursday.

The new policy, a response to a Supreme Court ruling in June that overturned a key provision in the Defense of Marriage Act, allows same-sex married couples to claim marriage-related exemptions, credits and deductions even if they live in jurisdictions that don’t recognize gay unions. Like heterosexual spouses, gay couples will be required to declare “married filing jointly” or “married filing separately.”

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Scare-quester? Gimme a break!

Most people in Washington believe that the Sequestration will happen.  Conservative sources like Fox News are busying the bandwidths by calling President Obama a liar and stating that the Sequester will not be all that bad.  Conservatives like Rand Paul are backing them up by saying the President is fueling the fire and that it won’t affect public safety or travel, despite Secretary of Transportation La Hood saying otherwise.

Meanwhile, Governors like Governor McDonnell of Virginia and Governor O’Malley of Maryland have both implored the President to do all in his power to keep the sequester from happening.  They fear the impact on their states, especially because of hits to the defense contact industry.  The governors fear job losses, unemployment and billions taken out of the economy.  Both states avoided major unemployment  during the financial crash because of  location and business from the federal government.  In particular, in Virginia, both the Hampton Roads area and Northern Virginia remained solidly employed.  Prince William County was hard-hit by foreclosure but that had nothing to do with the federal government.

This Friday, March 1, unless Congress overturns the Budget Control Act of 2011, that authorizes the Sequester, things will start to roll downhill.  Federal employees can expect furloughs, no raises.

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What’s at stake?



From the Washington Post.

All this to protect the rich?  What a bunch of fools.  Someone has drunk too much kool ade.

Let’s look at the reality.  We are coming out of a recession.  Can we afford to do a nose dive right back in?

Who are these Republican losers who refuse compromise?  Send them packing.  Yes, I trust Obama, not the trogladytes who are running us over the cliff like the natives used to do the buffalo.

Should Sequestration go into affect, those losers will have thrown their party to the wolves.  The Republicans will forever own the financial disaster we will be mired in.  There will be no forgiveness.

Cutting the debt with health care and Big Bird? Noooooooooo

Two different plans-killing AHA and Big Bird or reducing programs and asking the very wealthy to pay a little more?

Which would you chose?

What will all those young people coming off their parents’ policies do?  What about those wo have pre-existing conditions?  Will those people be dropped?

If financial burdens are dumped back on the states, as suggested by Mr. Romney, who pays then?  How about the poorer states?  You and I will pay.  Pay me now or pay me later.  You heard Mr. Romney–these responsibilities will be returned to the states.  I ask, should the pay come from the big national pot of the smaller state pot?  It sounds like an invitation for the states to go bankrupt.

It sounds real good, especially to those states rights people.  You might want to check with some of  Civil War records and all that money.  Where did it go?  In my family it was all Gone with the Wind.

Is 15% capital gains tax fair?

The question becomes, is the 15% tax rate on capital gains fair?  Mitt Romney says yes, because it is all investment money which has already been taxed.  For instance, if you own stock in Exxon, and you get a dividend, it was $.57 on each share you own.  Supposedly, that money has already been taxes.  But has it?  I thought the oil companies were always slithering out of paying taxes.  How about your dividends on GE?  Last year it supposedly didn’t pay corporate taxes.
Mitt Romney doesn’t have an income.   He isn’t paid a salary.  He lives off his investments.  He pays taxes on other things…like capital gains from dividends and from profit made  on sale of investments.  So is it fair?
I say yes.  We all pay what Mitt pays on capital gains.  Now he can do fancier things to protect his assets than I can.  He has more to play with by about a million billion times.  But I am going to defend him…mainly because *I* don’t want to pay more.  I wouldn’t have a problem bumping up the rich cats a percent or two once they hit $500,00 but I don’t  think Mitt has cheated us.
What say you?

Here you have it: tax increases for the upper 2%, Paycheck Fairness goes down in flames



Press Secretary Jay Carney told reporters aboard Air Force One on Wednesday that President Obama will not sign an extension.

“He will not. Could I be more clear?” Carney said. “He will not support an extension of the upper-income Bush tax cuts. He could not be more clear.”

Clinton suggested on Tuesday that the cuts on higher-income earners should be extended temporarily to allow the economy more time to heal. But Obama has repeatedly said he wants them to expire as scheduled at the end of this year.

“President Obama has been clear about his position and it has not changed:  We should not extend and he will not extend the tax cuts — the Bush-era tax cuts for the wealthiest 2 percent of the American people,” Carney said Wednesday. “It’s bad policy.  It’s bad for the economy.”

I haven’t figured out why middle class republicans are protecting the upper 2% like it was their own money.   Someone is selling you a bill of goods.  Who is better able to take increase?  You or them?

On another note, while protecting the rich, it seems that the Republicans threw the American women under the bus:

President Obama railed against  a Tuesday Senate vote where the chamber failed to approve the Paycheck Fairness Act, a bill designed to Read More

Bad decisions of 2011

Verizon came out yesterday or the day before with a plan that was just bound  to piss off the masses.  Mid-January, those paying their bill by credit or debit card would be assessed a $2.00 fee for the convenience.  Customers could save 2 dollars by using an electronic check, money order or mailing in a payment where real people who get salaries and benefits would have to be hired to process the payments.  Apparently the Verizon masses rejected the plan quite vociferously and as of today, Verizon announced it had listened to input from customers and would not implement the plan. 

I guess Verizon Wireless (who has you locked in with their contracts) remembered none too fondly what happened to the darling of the stock market, Netflix.  It restructured its pricing plan and divided into 2 branches–one streaming and one for hard copy dvd movies and blue ray.  In some cases, the cost of belonging to Netflix went up by 60%.  People left like rats off a sinking ship. CEO Reed Hastings took the heat but it didn’t help.   In 2 month’s time Netflix lost over 800,000 customers.  The stock has plunged 75%.   According to Huffington Post:

Hastings has repeatedly taken the blame for mismanaging the announcement of the price increase in July and then making things worse two months later by trying to spin off Netflix’s DVD-by-mail rental service into a separate website called Qwikster. Since scrapping that idea in October, Hastings has been trying to repair some of the damage.

That will probably take a while. Netflix’s stock price has plunged 75 percent since mid-July to wipe out $12 billion in shareholder wealth. The backlash surprised and humbled Hastings, who revealed at an investor conference this month that he once thought Netflix’s stock would hit $1,000. Netflix’s stock gained $2.87 Thursday to close at $73.84, down from its July high of just under $305.

That maneuver just tells us how volatile some of the stock is to customer satisfaction.  I had planned on purchasing more Verizon this week and decided to h0ld off, thinking of Netflix.  Meanwhile, HBOgo, Amazon streaming which just happens to be free if you buy the Amazon Prime free shipping plan, and Best Buy all are vying for Netflix defectors.  it all reminds me of that tragic error made by Coca Cola.  New coke was just miserable.  That CEO lost his job. 

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1 in 2 Americans are low income

From the Daily Beast:

Is this what decline looks like? According to new supplemental data from the Census Bureau, nearly half of Americans—a shocking record number—have fallen under the poverty line or are classified as “low income” and barely scraping by. Many in the middle class have dropped to the low-income threshold, meaning they make less than $45,000 for a family of four, because of pay cuts or spouses losing jobs. They number 97.3 million, and together with the 49.1 million in poverty, they represent about 48 percent of the U.S. population, or 146.4 million. That’s up by 4 million from 2009 numbers.

That seems rather high for a poverty threshold.  What defines ‘poor?’  What criteria is used?  Does it vary from region to region?  Many starting pay jobs in this area are below $45,000.   Recently separated or divorced women often have to restart careers making this much money.  Are they all living  in poverty?  Starting pay in Prince William County for a first year teacher is $43,615 for 195 days work.  No paid holidays etc.  That’s below the poverty level if that teacher has a spouse and kids.

Don’t get me wrong.  I don’t think living on $45,000 would be picnic, but I think you can have a roof over your head and clothes on your back, even in Northern Virginia.  Do we need to rethink what poor is?  What does poor mean to you?    

Will Northern Virginia suffer a financial relapse?  If yes, what will cause it?  What can we do to insulate ourselves and our families from it?




Virginians not so well off if they work for the state


Richmond Times Dispatch:

More than 60 percent of states pay their rank-and-file employees better than Virginia.

And when compared to the average salary among Virginia’s private-sector employees, the outlook for state government worker pay in Virginia is even worse, ranking 48th in the nation.

Those startling statistics come from a recently released report from the state’s Department of Human Resources Management using data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics.

The numbers are in stark contrast to this year’s analysis of compensation details for 104,552 state employees by the Richmond Times-Dispatch, which shows the average state salary of roughly $52,553 — nearly identical to the average salary in the state’s private sector.

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SuperCommittee Admits Failure

The Super Committee, charged with shaving $1.2 Trillion dollars off the federal debt, failed to answer their mandate and now admits defeat.  The committee was comprised of 6 Republicans and 6 Democrats.  They have met since August, 2011.

I haven’t followed them.  I saw that all 6 Republicans chosen for the committee were tied to Grover Norquist pledges so the entire committee became a joke.  Committees should consist of people who have a willingness to compromise.  Those committed to a pledge won’t be able to do that.  Why were people chosen who were bound to  a pledge that technically could not involve any outcome that involved taxes being raised anywhere?  Do we all just look stupid?

Hold on to your 401k and other investments today.  The ride should be like a roller coaster….all going downhill.  The pledgers are bound to destroy us to save us. 

No person committed to a pledge should have ever been chosen for a committee that by definition will require compromise.  Thanks R’s.  Thanks for nothing, again.  And you want my Independent vote because?   Yea, I want to be broke.  I want my social security, my medicare and my other retirement funds broke.  That just gives me a warm fuzzy feeling.  Let’s protect the rich from any tax increase at all  and stick it to the senior citizens and the middle class.  

 Our system is morally corrupt. 


Retirement: Its ok to blame Wall Street

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Rachel Maddow warns us all about our 401Ks(authorized in 1978). Our nest eggs give us a false sense of security. They are riddled with hidden fees. Everyone needs to see this segment of Rachel Maddow. Meanwhile, don’t be lulled into a false sense of security.

Just a few tidbits about your 401k–it is only worth 76% of what you see. Why? Taxes haven’t been taken out. The 403B is its ugly evil twin (those often have annuity zingers attached that cost you money). That’s if you live in Virginia. Most people who contribute to a plan get some free money. That is good. However, if you don’t get matching funds, you are far better off using an IRA as a retirement vehicle. Why? More choices.  Company 401k plans are usually limited in choices.

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