What the heck could possibly go wrong?

Let me get this straight. We're going to be "gifted" with a health care plan we are forced to purchase and fined if we don't, written by a committee whose chairman says he doesn't understand it, passed by a Congress that hasn't read it but exempts themselves from it, to be signed by a president who also smokes, with funding administered by a treasury chief who didn't pay his taxes, to be overseen by a surgeon general who is obese, and financed by a country that's broke. What the heck could possibly go wrong?

Commentary: The Higher Education Bubble: Ready to Burst?

From Rasmussen Reports by Michael Barone - Imagine that you have a product whose price tag for decades rises faster than inflation. But people keep buying it because they're told that it will make them wealthier in the long run. Then, suddenly, they find it doesn't. Prices fall sharply, bankruptcies ensue, great institutions disappear. Sound like the housing market? Yes, but it also sounds like what Glenn Reynolds, creator of instapundit.com, writing in The Washington Examiner, has called "the higher education bubble." Government-subsidized loans have injected money into higher education, as they did into housing, causing prices to balloon. But at some point people figure out they're not getting their money's worth, and the bubble bursts.Some think this would be a good thing. My American Enterprise Institute colleague Charles Murray has called for the abolition of college for almost all students. Save it for genuine scholars, he says, and let others qualify for jobs by standardized national tests, as accountants already do. Read more

O'Reilly - Death in Mexico

Bill O'Reilly
One of the most underreported ongoing stories around is the war in Mexico between the government and the drug cartels. Here are the grisly stats: More than 28,000 people have been killed in drug-related violence since 1996. In Iraq, 4,421 Americans have been killed. In Afghanistan, 1,141. The truth is that Mexican drug merchants are even more deadly than al-Qaida. They have more firepower and more money and are just as willing to kill civilians as are the homicidal jihadists. Yet, we Americans know little about the chaotic situation south of the border. The reason is that the drug cartels don't seem to threaten us directly. But, of course, they do. Illegal narcotics from Mexico wind up in almost every community in the United States. The FBI estimates that about 70 percent of crimes from coast to coast are drug-fueled.Read more here:

19 Dead Over Weekend in Juarez

After a deadly Saturday in Juárez, Sunday was quieter, with two homicides by evening. A shooting that killed four men at a house was among the bloodshed that killed 17 people Saturday. The attack occurred about 4:25 p.m. when men were shot on the patio of a house on Sierra Negra street and Avenida Montes Urales in the Cuesta area of the city. Chihuahua state police identified the four victims as Luis Cigarroa, 66; Carlos Cigarroa, 30; Ricardo Delgado Castillo, 32; and Juan Garcia, who was in his 30s. Delgado died at a hospital. The others died at the scene. About 2,000 people have been murdered in Juárez this year. It is not uncommon to have days with double-digit death tolls. Read more here:

Spence: How to Think About “Earnings Seasons”

Jim Spence
Every quarter, domestic publicly traded companies are required to report their results. Most management teams host a conference call where they detail these results. During the calls they walk through their financial statements and answer analyst questions. The results, taken individually, can be choppy but taken in the context of previous quarters over several years, these results can be quite informative. We are a few weeks from the next “earnings season.” In a few weeks a good majority of domestic publicly traded companies are reporting their results for the quarter ending September 30th. And once again our analysts will do the hard work of covering these results, participating in conference calls and pouring over a great volume of financial data.
The stock market is really a market of stocks. Accordingly, in general, stocks react differently to results depending on recent market activity in the individual share price and the market as a whole. During some earnings seasons, good news brings heavy selling as investors lock-in gains on stocks that have recently moved higher in anticipation of such good news. During other earnings seasons, bad news brings heavy buying as investors feel the bad news is priced in and look for improvement in future quarters. Some earnings seasons bring unexplained buying and selling while others bring further erosion based on damaged investor confidence. The best approach is to NOT try to figure out which kind of whimsical market reaction to earnings season the market will present each quarter. It is far better to try to decipher the answer to one primary question: Is the business model intact or has there been any fundamental change in the business, particularly the durability of what any perceived competitive advantage?
Astute investors don’t like change. We particularly don’t want to see changes in management of the companies we own and we don’t want to see changes in direction of the companies’ operations. We definitely don’t want to see changes in accounting. We don’t even like seeing changes in the location of the company headquarters. We prefer companies that have a core competency, stick to that core competency and work hard every day to perfect it.
Unfortunately, the economic climate of the last few years has resulted in a great deal of change. Some companies that were once stalwarts, the large-cap widely held names, no longer exist. The rules and regulations imposed by government are changing dramatically in many industries. And the global financial landscape has dramatically changed with many states and many countries teetering on insolvency. The good news about the global financial crisis of the last few years is that the management of nearly every corporation around the world had their feet put to the fire. The economic pressures were unrelenting and in many instances revealed the true colors of managements. The results of the last 10 or so quarters have revealed key characteristics of managements, the sustainability of cost structures and the true elasticity of demand of products and services. Though not the most fun time to be an investor, it has been a cleansing time for our universe of stocks that we closely follow.
Given the recent cleansing, do we still estimate future profitability of the companies in our universe? Absolutely! Are we disappointed when the company falls short of that expectation without explanation? Completely! Will we trade based on one quarter’s results alone? Not likely.
Earnings season is a four times per year opportunity to gather additional information about the companies that we follow, not an opportunity for the ever fickle “Mr. Market” to change our minds about the fundamental resilience of a particular business model. Wall Street analysts set expectations on revenue and earnings for each quarter and a great deal of the market’s movement following the earnings release will be based on the company’s actual results versus those expectations. Rarely, do analysts get those metrics exactly right.
Although we develop our own, internal expectations for these “head-line numbers,” rarely do our analysts get them exactly right either. Rather than focusing on the absolute value of these metrics, we focus on trend, we focus on the drivers behind them and we focus on the results relative to the company’s competitors. Rather than calling the quarter a “miss” we strive to understand which components fell below expectations and how these components are expected to perform in the following quarters. And rather than characterizing a quarter as a “beat,” we will work to analyze the sustainability of the performance. Careful consideration of these elements prevents us from joining in the mob mentality of “knee-jerk” reactions often seen during earnings season.
Consideration of these elements takes us almost completely out of the expectations game. Instead we hold firm in asking the fundamental question, one we ask over and over again, especially during earnings season: Has anything changed? Adding to the complexities is the fact that the political situation is ever-changing, the regulatory environment is ever-changing, taxation is ever-changing, exchange rates are ever-changing….we are completely certain that change will always be present. What should not change is an aversion to change within the fundamentals of the companies we closely follow or how the market’s reaction will affect our perception of the companies- earnings season.


McCain - Administration Ignoring Violence on Border

John McCain
The Obama administration is ignoring violence spilling into the U.S. from Mexico and the growing insecurity along huge stretches of the border, Arizona Sen. John McCain said Sunday. That violence, which has killed 28,000 Mexican citizens, is a threat to U.S. security, McCain said. "The people who live in the southern part of my state do not have a secure environment. To wit, there are signs that the government put up that say, 'Warning. You are in a drug smuggling area and a human smuggling area,'" McCain told "Fox News Sunday." Read more here:

Germany: Extends Life of Nuclear Plants

Angela Merkel
E.ON AG and RWE AG soared in Frankfurt trading after German Chancellor Angela Merkel’s government agreed to extend the lifespan of nuclear power plants in exchange for payments to fund alternative energy projects. E.ON, the country’s biggest utility, had its biggest intraday gain since May 27, advancing as much as 3.7 percent. RWE, based in Essen, climbed as much as 2.8 percent. Before today, the stocks had tumbled 21 percent since the start of the year, putting them among the DAX Index’s 3 biggest losers. Coalition leaders yesterday in Berlin agreed to allow seven reactors built before 1980 to run eight years longer than planned and 10 newer plants to remain open an additional 14 years, said Klaus Breil, the ruling Free Democratic Party energy spokesman, who took part in the talks. That would mean an average extension of 12 years from the original 2022 shutdown date. “This is definitely a good result that makes good economic sense. Power will remain affordable while renewable energy will get a new kick-start,” Breil said in an interview. “Nuclear power is a bridge technology that we just can’t do without.” Read more here:

Book Review - Overhaul: An Insider's Account of the Obama Administration's Emergency Rescue of the Auto Industry

Margaret Carlson
Rahm "F" Bomb
No one thought it was the Waltons working at the White House. Yet one scene in the new book by Steven Rattner, former automotive adviser to President Barack Obama, still comes as a shock. The F-word is an epithet White House Chief of Staff Rahm Emanuel uses a hundred times a day, but it is extremely indiscreet to hurl it at the United Auto Workers, a sacred cow among the Democratic deities. That’s the one juicy revelation in Rattner’s “Overhaul: An Insider’s Account of the Obama Administration’s Emergency Rescue of the Auto Industry” that the White House is especially anxious to tamp down. UAW President Bob King has already sent out an e-mail calling the account “baloney.” Of course, he wasn’t there. While there have been other books about the Obama administration, this is the first from the inside and it is full of glimpses behind the curtain that we usually have to wait four years to see. The president is as smart as any chief executive officer he has encountered, writes Rattner, co-founder of private-equity firm Quadrangle Group LLC. He is conversant on the whole range of auto-industry issues, right down to the liquidity of the supply chain, but he has his blind spots. Read more here:

Lurita Doan: Shovel Ready or Just "Shoveling It"

Lurita Doan
President Obama and his team of White House advisors are wrong: no additional federal funding is needed to stimulate a federal construction boom that would launch job-creation in cities across the United States. What is needed, desperately, is no-cost, regulatory reform of the existing federal building process. Currently, the average cycle to conceive, design, fund and ultimately construct a federal building takes approximately 7 years. That’s just too long. Few infrastructure projects move quickly through the federal government’s labyrinthine process because there are approximately twenty regulated hurdles that must be cleared before a project is considered "shovel ready". Read more here:

Bialosky - Budget is Not California's Only Problem

The Golden State has not been looking so golden for a while now. California has budget deficits that get bigger ever year, despite imposing among the highest tax rates in the country in every category. These factors have begun to chase businesses and their employees to other states that are better managed and far less costly. Yet as bad as these economic conditions are to the burden of running a business (not to mention raising a family), they are only part of the reason that it is so difficult to operate a profitable enterprise in California today. It is no surprise to anyone with common sense that all these government-union employees create countless rules and regulations in order to justify their existence and perpetuate the need for additional positions. Unfortunately, too many of these bureaucratic decrees are utterly incomprehensible, and many are totally contradictory. This makes it almost impossible for a business owner to run a company within the law while not being vulnerable to lawsuits either from employees or the government. Read more here:

Star Parker - Withdrawing From Reality

Star Parker
It’s interesting why behavior that we readily recognize, on an individual level, as undesirable, we routinely promote and accept as government and social policy. What rational person would suggest that being detached from reality is a good thing? Or what rational person does not want good information when making important decisions? But increasingly we live in an environment, created by government driven policies, in which the picture of reality we have is false, and the information available to us for making routine decisions is distorted. Read more here: