FTM Weekend Roundup – October 8, 2011

October 8, 2011

by Jerry Robinson | FTMDaily Editor-in-Chief

HOUSTON, October 8

 

Economy/Personal Finance

  • After beginning the fourth quarter near bear market territory, the major U.S. stock indexes staged a rally this week on news that Europe would step in to help its ailing banking sector along with some better than expected economic data in the U.S. The Dow ended down on Friday, but up overall on the week by 1.7%, to close at 11103.12. After dipping into bear market territory on Tuesday, the S&P 500 rallied to end the week 2.1% higher at 1155.46, ending a two-week losing streak. The tech-heavy Nasdaq was up an impressive 2.7% on the week to close at 2479.35. West Texas Intermediate crude oil climbed 4.8% to end the week at $82.98 per barrel, its largest weekly percentage gain since March 2011. Natural gas prices fell nearly 5% on the week to close at $3.49 per MMbtu. Copper rose 3.9% on the week after suffering a severe four week losing streak. The Euro fell below $1.34 on Friday, reversing what would have been the third consecutive daily gain for the currency against the U.S. Dollar. For prices on precious metals, keep reading.
  • The U.S. economy added 103,000 jobs in the month of September. The official unemployment rate remains at 9.1%. According to economists, 6.6 million new jobs need to be created to get America back to it’s pre-recession employment levels. 
  • The bogus “economic recovery” that the current administration, the U.S. Treasury, and the Federal Reserve have been touting for the last 18 months is now, according to Fed Chief, Ben Bernanke, “close to faltering.” Who didn’t see this coming?
  • On Friday, gold prices closed the week higher by 0.8% at $1634.50 per ounce. Silver also edged 3.2% higher on the week closing at $31.05. According to precious metals advisor, Tom Cloud, gold, silver, and palladium prices have reached “firesale” prices… Is this the week to buy? Listen here.
  • The Bank of England’s Governor, Sir Mervyn King, said the world is possibly facing the worst economic crisis in history, following the decision by the Bank’s Monetary Policy Committee decision to print and inject 75 billion British pounds (116.5+ billion U.S. dollars) into the economy this week. We hate to say it but we actually agree with a central banker right now… Watch the interview here.
  • Spain and Italy were both downgraded by Fitch this week. Belgium is now under the microscope for a possible debt downgrade.
  • It’s hard to believe that it is already time to begin thinking about taxes. Here’s three tax tips to help you begin preparing for the upcoming tax season.
  • The Occupy Wall Street movement continues to spread throughout the country. Is this the spark of revolution? Hear my analysis on this week’s FTMWeekly Radio show here.
  • It has literally never been cheaper to finance (or re-finance) a house… According to mortgage financier Freddie Mac, interest rates on a 30-year fixed mortgage dropped below 4% — to 3.94% to be precise — for the first time … ever. And if you can scrape together the cash to manage a 15-year fixed-rate mortgage, the deals are even cheaper — as low as 3.26%.
  • This week, the world mourned the loss Apple founder, Steve Jobs. Jobs was a true visionary who changed the world through innovative technology which created immense value for consumers and shareholders alike. He will be missed and we here at FTMDaily are praying for his family and close friends who have suffered a tremendous loss. Jobs was 56. 
  • With the recent passing of Apple’s Steve Jobs at the young age of 56, we are all reminded that life is fragile and can end much earlier than perhaps we planned. One of the most selfless things that we can do is to confront our mortality now, while we are still healthy, and make the hard decisions about how we may want our estate handled when we inevitably pass. Here’s a list of 25 financial documents that you should have in order now. 

Politics/Geo-Politics

  • N.J. Gov. Chris Christie announced that he would not be in the running for the White House in 2012. There is still chatter that Christie may be open to a position as VP. Tea-party favorite Sarah Palin also announced this week that she was not running. But the most shocking news this week came from the polls on Herman Cain… A new Zogby poll released on Thursday showed that Cain, the former Godfather’s Pizza CEO, was leading the Republican field, topping former front-runner Mitt Romney by an astonishing 20 points. Cain would also narrowly edge out Obama in a general election, albeit a slim margin, the poll found, by a 46 – 44 margin. Romney, the former Massachusetts governor, would lose by a point to the president, 40 percent to 41 percent. Texas governor Rick Perry, who has slipped in the polls of late, would lose to the president 45 percent to 40 percent. The poll found that 38 percent of Republican primary voters said they would vote for Cain if the primary were held today. Eighteen percent said they would throw their support to Romney, while 12 percent each said they would vote for Perry and Texas congressman Ron Paul. No other candidate attracted double-digit support. This is the second straight month that Zogby has found Cain leading the pack; he has surged another 10 points ahead of his competitors since September. Romney, on the other hand, has remained in the same place, while Perry’s share of the primary vote in the Zogby poll has steadily declined since he announced his candidacy in August. 
  • A separate FOXNEWS poll found Cain had 17 percent of the vote, trailing Perry by just two points and Romney by five.
  • A CBS News poll released Tuesday found Romney and Cain tied at 17 percent, with Perry trailing at 12 percent.
  • My issues with Mr. Cain are mounting… Despite the fact that he understands free markets and free enterprise, he supported TARP. He sees no need to audit the Federal Reserve. And, despite my sympathy with the consumption tax, I do not feel comfortable with it being added without completely removing one of the other forms of taxation. New taxes always begin low… i.e. Herman Cain’s “9-9-9” plan. However, history has demonstrated that politicians can’t resist the urge to raise them as soon as humanly possible. Example: In 1913, the Federal Income Tax was imposed upon the United States with all kinds of promises that the top marginal tax rate would not exceed 7%. Fast forward five years to 1918 and the new top marginal tax rate stood at a whopping 77%! I don’t want another tax lever in the hands of these spendthrift politicians before repealing either the corporate or income tax. Hear more of my analysis on this week’s FTM Weekly Radio show here.
  • Vladimir Putin, the Prime Minister of Russia, is intent on building a “Eurasian Union” of ex-Soviet states, according to an article in the Izvestia newspaper on Tuesday. Here’s the details
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