Mainstream Media | - Part 3

Was 2011 a Good Year for Stocks?

Much was made of the major U.S. stock market indexes finishing in positive territory for the year, however, it was a very different story elsewhere in the world as indicated in red below via the December 31st print edition of the Wall Street Journal.

While the S&P500 and Nasdaq indexes both finished slightly in the red, the widely held ETFs that track them produced modest gains while the big stocks in the Dow Jones Industrial Average saw a 5.5 percent improvement or, an 8.1 percent return including dividends.

Ron Paul on Face the Nation

GOP hopeful Rep. Ron Paul (R-TX) appeared on Face the Nation yesterday and host Bob Schieffer provided a very compelling display of how, for the most part, the mainstream media works against any fundamental reform for the U.S. government as Schieffer seems to only be interested in putting words in Paul’s mouth that, fortunately, are rejected.

Some media-watchers have called this a hit-job after Paul had risen to a statistical tie for the lead in some Iowa polls and it’s hard not to come away with that impression when you examine Shieffer’s words closely, as was done by Paul Mulshine of the New Jersey Star Ledger in the article No wonder these talking heads don’t like talking to Ron Paul.

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The Biggest Q4 Rally in 13 Years?

After a dismal start to the month, major U.S. stock market indexes bounced the other day before closing in bear market territory and this has spawned all sorts of reports in the mainstream financial media in which analysts and pundits are now hopeful about a big fourth quarter rally. This Bloomberg story is typical of the lot.

Strategists See Biggest S&P 500 Gain Since ’98

Wall Street strategists say the Standard & Poor’s 500 Index, after falling within 1 percent of a bear market this week, will post the biggest fourth-quarter rally in 13 years even after they cut forecasts at a rate exceeded only during the credit crisis.

The benchmark index for U.S. stocks will climb 14 percent from yesterday to end 2011 at 1,300, according to the average estimate of 12 strategists surveyed by Bloomberg. The last time they were this bullish in October was 2008, when the group predicted a 27 percent gain and the index lost 18 percent.

Analysts from Oppenheimer & Co. to UBS AG and Barclays Plc say equities will rebound from a decline of 19 percent since April as policy makers prevent a default by Greece and profit in the S&P 500 climb to $95.85 a share in 2011. Europe’s worsening debt crisis and the U.S. government’s loss of its AAA credit rating led strategists to cut their S&P 500 forecast in the past two months from an average level of 1,401.

“Investors are way too bearish and are being swayed by macro variables,” Brian Belski, the New York-based chief investment strategist at Oppenheimer, wrote in an e-mail on Oct. 4. “Fundamentals drive stocks,” he said. “U.S. portfolios are not positioned for a positive third-quarter earnings season.”

It is very true that sentiment is worse than the underlying economic fundamentals that, so far, are only indicating sluggish growth or a very mild recession, though, after the 2008 experience, it’s understandable that the mood of the stock buying public has soured in advance of any major decline for either the economy or equities.

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A Liberal Version of the Tea Party?

It would appear as though the two-week long Occupy Wall Street protest is gathering momentum after some 700 people were arrested yesterday after they blocked traffic on the Brooklyn Bridge as detailed in this report at Fox Business News.

Based on the video above – now with their own food kitchen and media center in New York City – it looks as though they’re planning to hang around for a while, some now thinking that the group could have an impact on the 2012 elections.

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Der Spiegel Does 9/11

Wow. Apparently the Germans who write for Der Spiegel don’t think much of our little 10-year anniversary of the September 11th terrorist attacks on New York City and Washington, filing these two reports to mark the occasion:

Bush’s Tragic Legacy: How 9/11 Triggered America’s Decline
Opinion: Ten Lost Years

Some highlights from the first:

“American exceptionalism” was always the US’s trump card. The new candidates for the White House still refer to it in the election campaign, but it sounds like a hollow mantra — one of those election promises that shouldn’t be examined too closely.

Because if it was, then people might realize that many things in America are only exceptional because they are exceptionally bad. The country has lousy health statistics despite having one of the most expensive health care systems in the world. Then there are the billions wasted in education, not to mention the armaments madness — the US spends almost as much on defense as the rest of the world put together.

And then there is the fixation on a financial system that rewards gamblers, where the country’s most talented young people no longer work on developing new patents, but devote themselves to financial wizardry. Meanwhile, China and other emerging economies can happily concentrate on their own ascent.

And from the second:

The policy of the United States after 9/11 wasn’t merely immoral. It actually damaged the country. The roughly 3,000 people who died on Sept. 11 were followed by more than 6,000 dead American soldiers in Afghanistan and Iraq, countless civilian victims, 5 million refugees and costs currently estimated at more than $3 trillion (€2.13 trillion).

What should the West have done after the attacks on America? The “War on Terror” should have ended when al-Qaida was driven out of Afghanistan. Instead, the United States turned it into an ideological world war.

It expended so many of it resources in this struggle, beyond all reasonable measure, that it led to shifts in the global tectonics of power. The rise of China, which may have been unstoppable already, was accelerated. The United States overestimated its abilities, and the neocons’ fantasies of omnipotence failed as a result.

Yikes! Maybe they’re just mad about the whole Greek default thing…

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