• Phoenix Capital...
    07/11/2014 - 11:24
    So… just WHO actually has a CLUE about the true state of the banks in Europe? More importantly, who will actually bother WARNING investors about the risks therein?  

Gallup

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Stats Of The Union





As the nation anxiously awaits President Obama's State of the Union speech tomorrow, we thought a brief reflection on the nation's view of him and his government was worthwhile. A glance at Gallup's front page tells us all we need to know. A mere 17% of respondents say their representatives deserve re-election; Obama's approval ratings are among the most polarized on record; 65% are unsaitsified with how government works; and, at 40%, the President's overall approval rating is practically at record lows. But, apart from that, we are sure the state of the union will be strong and it's nothing but up from here...

 
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54% of Republicans Say We’ve Got Too Much Inequality





6 CONSERVATIVE Reasons – Based Upon CONSERVATIVE Values – For Making Sure Inequality Doesn't Spiral Out of Control Even More

 
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Corporate Profits & Income Inequality





The current Administration has taken on the "war on poverty" as its primary battle ground going into the mid-term elections later this year.  As NFIB's Bill Dunkleberg recently noted, "since it is an election year, the main theme will be addressing the disparities in income and wealth (i.e. tax the rich and increase welfare programs) rather than promoting policies that would create jobs and raise incomes in a growing economy. This year, policy will be all about votes." This isn't a new fight.  As Robert Rector stated recently - that particular war has been less than successful.

"Fifty years and $20 trillion later, LBJ's goal to help the poor become self-supporting has failed."

However, while the Administration will use the argument to garner votes in an election year, the most interesting aspect about the income inequality debate is that it is the very policies of the current Administration that is fueling the income shift. 

 
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What Recovery? Sears And J.C. Penney Are Dying





Two of the largest retailers in America are steamrolling toward bankruptcy.  Sears and J.C. Penney are both losing hundreds of millions of dollars each quarter, and both of them appear to be caught in the grip of a death spiral from which it will be impossible to escape.  Once upon a time, Sears was actually the largest retailer in the United States, and even today Sears and J.C. Penney are "anchor stores" in malls all over the country. They are both shutting down unprofitable stores and laying off employees in a desperate attempt to avoid bankruptcy, but everyone knows that they are just delaying the inevitableThese two great retail giants are dying, and they certainly won't be the last to fall.  This is just the beginning.

 
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5 Things To Ponder This Weekend: Beer Goggles, Fires And Luck





With the market more bullishly positioned, more euphoric, and more levered than almost any time in history, it is perhaps worth "pondering" what some of the risks to this optimism could be...

 
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Americans Still See Government As Their Biggest Problem





While the "economy in general" and "jobs" remain a close second (with the latter rising rapidly despite a plunging - and entirely useless - unemployment rate), Americans polled by Gallup still see the number 1 problem facing the US is "dissatisfation with government; poor leadership and abuse of power." Compared with a year ago, mentions of government are up slightly; but mentions of healthcare, on the other hand, have quadrupled -- from 4% in January 2013 to 16% today!

 
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The Level Of Economic Freedom In The United States Is At An All-Time Low





Americans have never had less economic freedom than they do right now.  The 2014 Index of Economic Freedom has just been released, and it turns out that the level of economic freedom in the United States has now fallen for seven consecutive years.  But of course none of us need a report or a survey to tell us that.  All we have to do is open our eyes and look around.  At this point our entire society is completely dominated by control freaks and bureaucrats.  Our economy is literally being suffocated to death by millions of laws, rules and regulations and each year brings a fresh tsunami of red tape.  As you will see below, the U.S. government issued more than 80,000 pages of brand new rules and regulations last year on top of what we already had.  Even if we didn't have all of the other monumental economic problems that we are currently facing, all of this bureaucracy alone would be enough to kill our economy.

 
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Catholic Diocese Of Stockton Files Bankruptcy; Priest Sexual-Abuse Scandal Blamed





Between lack of cash flows, insurmountable liabilities, an untenable pension funding, even insider fraud, we thought we had seen all the various reasons for filing for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection. And then along came the Catholic Diocese of Stockton which announced that it would join its host city and seek bankruptcy protection "in the wake of the church's sexual-abuse scandal." As WSJ reported, Bishop Stephen E. Blaire said in a news release Monday that the diocese would seek bankruptcy protection Wednesday, explaining that reorganization was the only option for dealing with mounting legal costs related to abuse by priests. The bishop said the diocese has spent $14 million in legal settlements and judgments over the past 20 years dealing with abuse allegations, and doesn't have funds available to settle pending lawsuits or address future allegations. The punchline: "Very simply, we are in this situation because of those priests in our diocese who perpetrated grave, evil acts of child sexual abuse."

 
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Obamacare "Approval" Drops To Record Low





For the current administration, now with a fresh developer to fix all the problems (with the website), the reality of public perception over Obamacare has gone from worst to worster-er this week. As Gallup polls show, nearly half of Americans say the Affordable Care Act will make the healthcare situation in the U.S. worse in the long run. When asked more broadly if they approve or disapprove of Obamacare, Americans come down on the disapprove side by 54% to 38% - a new record low for 'approval'.

 
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How The College Bubble Will Pop





In 1970, when 11% of adult Americans had bachelor's degrees or more, degree holders were viewed as the nation's best and brightest. Today, with over 30% with degrees, as the WSJ notes, a significant portion of college graduates are similar to the average American - not demonstrably smarter or more disciplined. Furthermore, declining academic standards and grade inflation add to employers' perceptions that college degrees say little about job readiness. As we noted recently, change is coming as more and more realize college may not be worth it. Educational entrepreneurship offers hope that creative destruction is coming to higher education. The cleansing would be good for a higher education system still tied to its medieval origins - and for the students it's robbing.

 
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And The Most Popular Political Party In America Is...





The following poll results from Gallup may represent the most significant domestic news story in 2014 to-date. Gallup polling in 2013 showed that the highest number of Americans now identify as Independents since it starting asking the question 25 years ago. Specifically, 42% identify as Independents, versus 31% as Democrats and 25% as Republicans. Even more interesting, the trend accelerated as the year progressed.

 
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Retail Sales Point To Continuing "Struggle Through" Economy





Retail sales are not currently indicating that the consumer is about to "drop kick" a game winning field goal in the coming year.  While the consumer is definitely "not dead," as evidenced by increased leverage in the recent credit reports, they are also not currently in the position to substantially increase demand five years into an economic recovery. Our perception is that the "struggle through" economy is likely to remain in 2014 which will disappoint the economic bulls.

 
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Approval Of EU Leadership Plunges To Record Low In Spain, Greece





No surprises here: hours after we reported that youth unemployment in Spain soared to fresh record highs (surpassing the already nosebleeding number of jobless people under 25 in Greece), here comes Gallup with a poll showing the approval rating of the (unelected) EU Leadership across the peripheral countries. And while there was a slight uptick in approval among respondents in Italy - the country that has so far benefited the most from the Italian central banker at the helm of the ECB - the EU's lack of approval just rose to all time highs in the two countries that continue to see their youth employment hopes crushed by the European experiment, with approval in Spain sliding to 27% (from 55% in 2010), while Greece, plunged to only 19%, which makes one wonder: just who has an interest in keeping Greece in Europe?

 
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For Too Many Americans, College Today Isn't Worth It





The economist Herbert Stein once said that if something can't go on forever, it will stop. The pattern of the last few decades, in which higher education costs grew much faster than incomes, with the difference made up by borrowing, can't go on forever... There is no point in trying to preserve the old regime as "working your way through college" is now impossible. For an 18-year-old, investing such a six-figure sum in an education without a payoff makes no more sense than buying a Ferrari on credit.

 
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How The Obamacare Rollout Is Really Being Experienced





As the New Year brings the actual implementation of Obamacare, it appears in reality things are not as great as many were promised. A recent Gallup survey found that only 7% called their Obamacare experience "very positive" with a stunning 29% seeing it "very negative." But as The Daily Mail found, from Northern Virginia hospitals turning away sick people because they can't determine whether their Obamacare insurance plans are in effect to high deductibles and long waits for authorizations; as many as one-third of the administration's claimed 2.1 million enrollees remain unsure of their coverage. The 'lie of the year' in 2013 may be even bigger in 2014.

 
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