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  • Has The US Dollar Topped Out, Or Headed Much Higher?

    The US dollar’s value has been on a tear since last summer, with the greenback’s value surging more than 20% against a basket of major foreign currencies. Reasons for the dollar’s sudden strong advance vary widely, but include the following among others:

    The US economy is faring better than most other developed economies, and foreign investors have to buy dollars in order to participate.
    The Fed is expected to raise short-term interest rates this year, and higher rates historically lead to a stronger currency.
    US stocks and bonds have been the leaders in market returns in recent years, and foreign investors continue to flock to them, creating more demand for dollars.
    Global tensions and concerns are rising in many parts of the world, and foreign investors are seeking a safe-haven in which to park their money.
    Basically, the US is the least worst of a bad lot when it comes to where international investors want to stash their money.
    For these reasons and others, international capital has been flowing into the US at a near-record rate since last summer. This has definitely boosted the value of the US dollar since last July and may continue to do so. But questions remain.

    The first question is whether the strong rise in the US dollar will continue? There are some compelling arguments that it will, as I will discuss below. Yet in March of this year, the US dollar turned lower. So the next question is, whether the recent downturn in the US dollar is a real change of trend? I’ll offer an opinion as we go along.

    Following that discussion, we will delve into the latest data on who pays income taxes and who doesn’t. The numbers may surprise you. Despite the fact that the top 20% of income earners pay almost 84% of all income taxes, the Democrats want to raise income taxes on high income earners and corporations. What else is new?

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  • The Surging U.S. Dollar - Good For Some, Bad For Others

    The US dollar has been surging against most other currencies over the last year. The question is, is the rising US dollar good for the economy and the investment markets, or not? No doubt, the rising dollar has been buffeting the US equity and bond markets this year and is increasingly cited as the main culprit. That is what we will delve into today.

    Opinions differ whether a rising dollar is a net positive, or a net negative, for the US economy going forward. But as I will point out below, the strong US dollar is a good thing, despite what others may say. However, the main reasons why the dollar is surging may surprise you.

    The US dollar has risen about 33% from its low in April 2007. The euro is approaching a new low relative to the US dollar, reaching $1.05 last week, the lowest level since 2003. The euro could be at parity with the US dollar, or even less, very soon. But what does that mean for most Americans? We will answer that question today.

    At the end of today's letter, I will recommend that investors reduce exposure to equities or hedge long positions due to rising financial risks around the globe, which are reflected in the soaring US dollar. Be sure to read my analysis below.

    Before we get into that discussion, let’s look at some recent economic reports and data. We start with the results of the latest Wall Street Journal survey of over 60 economic forecasters. Next, we look at the wholesale price index which has now declined for the last four months. And then we look at retail sales which have declined for the last three months, well below expectations. Let’s get started.

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  • GDP Report Shows the Economy is Stalling

    It appears that the debt ceiling fiasco will finally be put to bed with a Senate vote later today, as I predicted. But not before our leaders in Washington led us to the brink of another financial crisis. Frankly, the new debt ceiling deal is UGLY as I will discuss below. But before we get to that, we have to look at last Friday's very disappointing GDP report - it was a shocker. So was the Fed's latest assessment of the economy last week. And so was yesterday's ISM manufacturing report which plunged in July. It is now clear that the US economy is very close to moving back into recession again.

    None of this is good news for the stock markets, which are down again today following a significant sell-off last week. The debt ceiling drama pointed out to millions of Americans just how dire our national financial situation is, and they are moving out of the stock markets in droves to the safety of Treasuries or cash. Is this an overreaction? I'll give you my thoughts as we go along.

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  • Why the Economic Recovery Isn’t Stronger

    We are told that the recession ended in the 1Q of 2009, but for most of us it sure doesn't feel like it ended at all. The official unemployment rate is still near 9% (near 16% if you count everyone), and the economy is struggling just to eek-out 3% GDP growth. In the past, the economy soared by 5-6% GDP or even better following severe recessions. So why isn't this economic recovery stronger?

    As I will discuss today, consumer confidence took a surprise dive in March. The latest figures on the housing market were simply dreadful across the board. Bank lending remains in the tank. And private investment in the US, especially by foreigners, has fallen off a cliff as a result of the recession and the falling US dollar. These are all reasons why the recovery is so sluggish, and they are not likely to change soon.

    The US equity markets have been on tear to the upside, despite the disappointing news on the economy. It seems that virtually everyone is convinced that stocks can only go higher, but that's usually a sign to look out below. Whatever happens, this is a very uncertain time in the markets!

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  • Gridlock and the Fed

    IN THIS ISSUE:

    1.  Hello Gridlock!

    2.  Is Gridlock Really Good for the Stock Market?

    3.  The Fed on Auto-Pilot

    4.  Doom for the Dollar?

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  • On The Economy & Waiting For Breakeven

    IN THIS ISSUE:

    1.  A Look at the Latest Economic Reports

    2.  Bernanke Setting Sail on the QE2

    3.  US Dollar Falls in Value

    4.  Waiting, Waiting, Waiting for Breakeven

    5.  The Advantages of Alternative Investments

    6.  Getting Started: How It All Works

    The Latest Economic Reports

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  • Will the US Dollar Lose "Reserve Currency" Status?

    The US dollar has been in a multi-year decline since peaking in 2001. While there was a temporary 'rush to safety' rebound in the dollar due to the global credit crisis in 2008, the dollar has resumed its long-term downtrend as of early March of this year. Now, more and more forecasters are suggesting that the dollar may lose its global "reserve currency" status if it continues to decline. Some are even calling for the establishment of an all-new global currency to replace the dollar entirely.

    This week, we will explore how the US dollar came to become the world's reserve currency and how difficult it would be to replace the dollar as the reserve currency, or replace it entirely with a new global currency. We will look at the major price trends in the dollar over the years and try to put the current decline into perspective. I will make the case that the US dollar will remain the global reserve currency for at least several more years. It should make for an interesting letter, so let's get started.

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