Showing posts from July, 2010

7 New Skills Every Worker Needs

Rick Newman

You're an expert at something? Hey, congratulations. Now, go become an expert at something else.

Most Americans striving to find or keep a job know the sensation: It's getting harder to get ahead, and the demands keep intensifying. Everybody knows how the recession destroyed wealth and derailed careers, leaving millions in a hole they're trying to dig out of. Now we're beginning to see some of the longer-term changes in the way Americans live and work. Some are distressing, but there's also plenty of hope for people who are industrious and willing to do what's necessary to succeed.

Unemployment is obviously far too high these days, and likely to stay that way for a couple of years at least. A prolonged "jobless recovery" is likely to depress incomes, spending, and living standards. But it's a mistake to assume that there are no good jobs or that Americans must consign themselves to inevitable decline. Despite a damaged economy, good jobs…

The Last Gasp Bubble of

Todd Harrison

When I began writing ten years ago, I would offer that the opposite of love wasn't hate; it was apathy.

I shared that thought after tech stocks dropped 40% in less than two months and then recovered half those losses the next two months. We all know what happened next; the tech sector melted 70% the next few years.

Wash and rinse, Pete and repeat; we've seen that sequel again and again and again. From the homebuilders (real estate) to China to crude oil, a "new paradigm" arrived. Every time was different and each offered a fresh set of forward expectations that would finally prove historical precedents need not apply

I traded all of those bubbles thinking quite sure they would follow the path of false hope and empty promises paved by their predecessors. That proved true as the real estate market crashed, China imploded under the weight of the world, and crude crumbled just as it seemed ready to stake claim to the new world order.

Sisyphus Now!

While those bu…

Do You Believe in Technicals or Fundamentals?

by Randall W. Forsyth

It's summer, the time for amusement parks and roller-coaster rides. So, too, it seems for the stock market as July is turning out to be fun after the second quarter's scary slide.

Key technical gauges of the stock market have begun to turn positive. The major stock market gauges have poked above their 200-day moving averages. The Dow Theory gave buy signal with the Industrials and Transports closing Monday above their June highs.

Richard Russell, the octogenarian publisher of the Dow Theory Letters, told his subscribers that he didn't expect a buy signal but they might as well buy some (NYSE: DIA - News) that track the DJIA "to get in on the fun."

But for himself, Russell wrote: "In view of my financial position and my age, I don't feel any urge to play the upside of this market, this despite the Dow Theory bullish signal. That fact is that at this stage of my life, risk vs.reward plays a very large part in my actions."

That's c…

Put Your Rally Caps Back On: 5 Reasons the Long-Term Bull Will Resume

by Brandon Rowley

"Men, it has been well said, think in herds; it will be seen that they go mad in herds, while they only recover their senses slowly, and one by one."-Charles Mackay, Extraordinary Popular Delusions and The Madness of Crowds

The last time I wrote this quote it was May 2009 and I argued that the market had upside even after the 33% rally off lows in "So

Much for Shorting the Markets" (shameless reference I know). I wrote this article following an extraordinarily anomalous time and the opportunity was the once-in-a-decade type of opportunity. While we are far from those extreme circumstances, the equity market has just experienced a 17% correction from highs and we are now 9% off those lows. Many are wondering whether the bull market is back on or this is just a bear market rally. I believe we could be at another quality buying opportunity, not nearly the extreme of 2009, but a great chance to pick up stocks on a 10% discount. Below are my five reasons …

Double-Dip? "Resilience" of Oil Prices Saying "Something Different", Chris Edmonds Says

Crude oil prices took a hit Tuesday after trading over $79 per barrel, the highest levels in nearly three-months. Prices fell below $76 per barrel following news the Consumer Board’s consumer confidence index fell again in July.

Chris Edmonds, managing principal at FIG Partners Energy Research & Capital Group, says prices are likely range-bound for the time being. Current prices suggest healthy demand but he doesn’t expect prices to go much higher than $80 “until we get more clarity on the economy.”

But he doesn't foresee oil prices falling much below $65 anytime soon and says "the resilience of oil prices told us...that the domestic and global economy is beginning to stabilize, and demand obviously is a key part of that."

Crude oil futures are up about 15% in the last year and had risen sharply this month prior to Tuesday's setback. "Oil has some risk" if the macroeconomic data continue to deteriorate, Edmodns says. "But those who trade the commodi…

A Grand Unified Theory of the Jobless Recovery

by Derek Thompson

Something's not right.

In most recessions in the last 60 years, jobs recovered soon after the economy healed. But in the last three downturns -- the early '90s, the early '00s, and today -- companies continued to slash jobs and hold off hiring for months, even years, after profits returned. In the current recession, many commentators are perplexed that corporations are sitting on their largest cash pile ever rather than investing in new workers.

Who or what can we blame? Four things.

Start at the top with executive pay, says Robert J. Gordon, a Northwestern economist, in a new paper. The share of executive compensation taking the form of stock options increased by 55% in the 1990s. That made the big suits particularly sensitive to downturns in the stock market, which has collapsed twice in the last decade, after the tech and housing bubbles burst.

Executive pay depends on high stock prices. High stock prices depend on high quarterly profits. High quarterly pro…

First, Protect Capital

by Randall W. Forsyth

Down 100 points one day, up 200 the next. Who can make sense of this stock market?

The answer that first sprang to mind was Louise Yamada, the long-time market maven whose shingle reads Louise Yamada Technical Research Advisors, LLC. Along with Alan Shaw, she was the heart and soul of Smith Barney's renowned technical research department until parent company Citigroup (NYSE: C - News) decided to shutter it early last decade.

"One day doesn't make a trend," she said of the Dow Jones Industrial Average's 201.77-point pop Thursday.

The stock market's pattern remains one of "distribution," which in the parlance of technical analysts means stocks are being moved, or distributed, from "strong hands" that have profits to "weak hands," the Johnny-come-latelies who want to jump on an advancing market's bandwagon. A distribution phase classically is a symptom of a market that is topping.

To confirm the uptrend has resu…

Ten Stock-Market Myths That Just Won't Die

by Brett Arends

The Dow Jones Industrial Average last week ended up pretty much where it had been a little more than a week earlier. A rousing 200-point rally on Wednesday mostly made up for the distressing 200-point selloff of the previous Friday.

The Dow plummeted nearly 800 points a few weeks ago — and then just as dramatically rocketed back up again. The widely watched market indicator is down 7% from where it stood in April and up 59% from where it was at its 2009 nadir.

These kinds of stomach-churning swings are testing investors' nerves once again. You may already feel shattered from the events of 2008-2009. Since the Greek debt crisis in the spring, turmoil has been back in the markets.

At times like this, your broker or financial adviser may offer words of wisdom or advice. There are standard calming phrases you will hear over and over again. But how true are they? Here are 10 that need extra scrutiny.

1 "This is a good time to invest in the stock market."

Really? Ask…

Is China at a Policy Turning Point?

by Craig Stephen

The Shanghai A-share index may be the world's second-worst performing equity market this year, but it is beginning to attract notice for the right reasons again, finishing last week up 6.1%.

A possible relaxation in government tightening measures which have rationed credit since the beginning of the year is the main reason for the move higher, although various analysts are starting to push cheap valuations on A-shares.

But it is changes in government policy that are under particular close scrutiny in an economy and equity market that is notoriously policy-driven.

Speculation is rising that recent weak economic data will force the government's hand into easing up on tightening measures. The release of second-quarter gross domestic product numbers earlier this month showed the economy slowing to a growth rate of 10.3% versus 11.9% in the first quarter.

Last week, Chinese President Hu Jintao said the government should stick to a proactive fiscal policy and moderately …

How profits, stocks can rise as economy stumbles

Bernard Condon, AP Business Writer

NEW YORK (AP) -- With earnings season in full swing, bulls and bears are combing through reports to arm themselves in what's become the mother of all stock market debates: Does the recovery gain steam, sending shares aloft? Or does it remain sluggish, or even stall, and push them down further?

A third possibility: Maybe the economy doesn't matter so much.

Larry Hatheway, an economist at UBS, says economic growth means companies selling more things. But he thinks that is not as important as it used to be to generating the profits needed to send stocks higher. That's because U.S. firms have mastered the art of pulling more and more money from each dollar of sales.

One gauge of that success: Corporate margins, or profits per sale, are hovering near 12 percent now, by one measure -- tantalizingly close to a half-century high.

"As long as we don't fall into another recession, it's a good time to make money," says Hatheway, who'…

为什么他是富人你是穷人? 揭秘富人赚钱秘诀


How The Rich Are Winning

by Brett Arends

You may have been hearing a lot of doom and gloom about the economy recently.

OK, so the news on jobs, real estate and retail sales has been dismal. Yes, maybe it's true the middle class is broke, in debt, under water, out of work and in despair.

But look on the bright side. One group of people is doing just fine. The rich.

The New York Times this weekend tried to find signs they were easing up -- maybe somebody put their new Ferrari on hold because of the Greek crisis. But any such suggestion should be viewed in context.

Tiffany & Co. (NYSE: TIF - News) says sales at its flagship New York store jumped 26% in the first quarter. International luxury goods giant Louis Vuitton Moet Hennessy -- whose brands range from Fendi to Givenchy to Moet & Chandon Champagne, plus, of course, those cliched Vuitton bags -- says U.S. sales boomed 20% in the first quarter, including a remarkable 58% boost for sales of jewelry and expensive watches like Tag Heuer.

Indeed the Swiss w…

Scams: A Sucker Retires Every Minute

by Alexis Leondis

More retirees are being targeted by financial fraudsters. Often, these scammers are themselves elderly.

Annuities. Reverse mortgages. Life insurance pools. Principal-protected notes. The options being offered to senior citizens hoping to ensure a comfortable retirement are dizzying. And in a growing number of cases, that may be the intention as more scammers--often elderly themselves--try to con retirees. Though hard numbers are difficult to come by, many lawyers and advocates for the elderly say more seniors than ever are being lured into investment schemes that are unsuitable for people of their age or are outright swindles. "Seniors who suffer from isolation and diminished capacity make ideal targets," says Steve Riess, a San Francisco attorney who represents elderly victims of con artists peddling bogus investments.

One out of five Americans over the age of 65 has been the victim of a financial scam, according to the Washington-based Investor Protection T…

Sunshine Empire trio guilty

By Khushwant Singh

A DISTRICT court convicted former head of Sunshine Empire James Phang Wah, 49, and ex-director Jackie Hoo Choon Cheat, 29, on Friday for perpetrating a fraud and for criminal breach of trust.

Phang and his wife Neo Kuon Huay, 46, were also found guilty of falsifying accounts. The trio will be sentenced on July 30.

During the two-month long trial that started last October, the prosecution presented evidence that the two men had misled participants about the customer rebate points (CRP) earned by buying the firm's lifestyle packages. The duo had claimed the CRP was derived from the firm's turnover on the e-mall platform.

While this sounds impressive, it was essentially meaningless, as the e-commerce platform generated no additional income for Sunshine, District Judge Jasvender Kaur noted.

The CRP was paid out from the sale of new packages and since the rebate points could come up to 160 per cent of the cost of a package, the scheme was doomed to fail, the judge sai…

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Retirement Shouldn't Be Numbers Game

by Joe Mont

There shouldn't be any harm in finding ways to simplify the complexities of retirement planning.

Over the years, much advice has drawn upon "magic numbers" touted as simple guidelines and goalposts for investors.

Those cookie-cutter bits of wisdom, however, hardly reflect the changing face of retirement, an evolution charged up by the millions of Baby Boomers who are just now reaching retirement age. Some may be downright dangerous to follow. Here are some common measures and how they stack up.

The Magic Number: 70%

What It Means: Plan to spend 70% of your current income in retirement. For example, if your pre-retirement income was $100,000 a year, spend $70,000 in your golden years.

What's Wrong With It: People are living longer than ever. (The life expectancy in the U.S. is 78.4.) With a company pension, you may be set for life, no matter how long you live. With direct-benefit plans giving way to employee-managed 401(k)'s and IRAs, retirement savings has …

Bear-Market Sentiment Is Back: Fund Survey

nvestor expectations for economic growth and profit have double-dipped, according to Bank of America-Merrill Lynch's latest fund survey.

The survey released Tuesday found that fund managers turned bearish in their outlook on the global economy and corporate earnings for the first time since February 2009.

Investors said they were more concerned about the outlook for US stocks now than at any other point since November 2006.

A recent string of weak US economic data raised speculation the recovery may be losing momentum, with June nonfarm payrolls falling by the largest number since October.

But others are less bearish, with IMF chief Dominique Strauss-Kahn playing down the possiblity of a double-dip recession Tuesday.

For the first time in over a year, investors expect corporate profits to weaken. Asset allocations towards pharmaceuticals, a classic defensive sector, increased to the highest level since March 2009, according to the survey.

On Monday, US aluminum maker Alcoa (NYSE: aa) ki…