Posts tagged ‘Bill Clinton’

It’s the Earnings, Stupid

Source: MaxMillionaire.WordPress.com

Political strategist James Carville famously stated, “It’s the economy stupid,” during the 1992 presidential campaign. Despite a historic record approval rating of 90 by President George H.W. Bush after the 1991 Gulf War victory, Bush Sr. still managed to lose the election to President Bill Clinton because of a weak economy. President Barack Obama would serve himself well to pay attention to history if he wants to enter the “two-termer” club. Pundits are placing their bets on Obama due to his large campaign war chest,  a post-Osama bin Laden extinguishment approval bump, and a cloudy Republican candidate weather forecast. If however, the unemployment rate remains elevated and the current administration ignores the spending/debt crisis, then the President’s re-election hopes may just come crashing down.

Price Follows Earnings

The similarly vital relationship between the economy and politics applies to the relationship of earnings and the equity markets too. Instead of the key phrase, “It’s the economy stupid,” in the stock market, “It’s all about the earnings stupid” is the crucial guideline. The balance sheet may play a role as well, but at the end of the day, the longer-term trend in stock prices eventually follows earnings and cash flows (i.e., investors will pay a higher price for a growing stream of earnings and a lower price for a declining or stagnant stream of earnings). Ultimately, even value investors pay more attention to earnings in the cases where losses are deteriorating or hemorrhaging (e.g. a Blockbuster or Enron). Another main factor in stock price valuations is interest rates. Investors will pay more for a given stream of earnings in a low interest rate environment relative to a high interest rate environment. Investors lived through this in the early 1980s when stocks traded at puny 7-8x P/E ratios due to double-digit inflation and a Federal Funds rate that peaked near 20%.

Source: HaysAdvisory.com – S&P 500 earnings growth keeps chugging along despite worries.

Bears Come Out of Hibernation

Today, earnings portray a different picture relative to the early eighties. Not only are S&P 500 operating earnings growing at a healthy estimated rate of +17% in 2011, but the 10-year Treasury note is also trading at a near-record low yield of 3.06%. In spite of these massively positive earnings and cash flow dynamics occurring over the last few years, the recent -3% pullback in the S&P 500 index from a month ago has awoken some hibernating bears from their caves.  Certainly a slowing or pause in the overall economic indicators has something to do with the newfound somber mood (i.e., meager Q1 real GDP growth of +1.8% and rising unemployment claims). Contributing to the bears’ grumpy moods is the economic debt hangover we are recovering from. However, a large portion of the fundamental economic expansion experienced by corporate America has not been fueled by the overwhelming debt still being burned off throughout the financial sector and eventually our federal and state governments.  Companies have become leaner and meaner – not only paying down debt, but also increasing dividends, buying back stock, and doing more acquisitions. The corporate debt-free muscle is further evidenced by the $100 billion in cash held by the likes of IBM, Microsoft Corp. (MSFT), and Google Inc. (GOOG) – and still growing.

At a 13.5x P/E multiple of 2011 earnings, perhaps the stock market is pricing in an earnings slowdown? But as of last week, about 70% of the S&P 500 companies reporting Q1 earnings have exceeded expectations. If this trend continues, perhaps we will see James Carville on CNBC rightfully shouting the maxim, “It’s the earnings, stupid!”

Wade W. Slome, CFA, CFP®

Plan. Invest. Prosper.

www.Sidoxia.com

DISCLOSURE: Sidoxia Capital Management (SCM) and some of its clients own certain exchange traded funds and GOOG, but at the time of publishing SCM had no direct position in IBM, MSFT, Blockbuster, Enron, or any other security referenced in this article. No information accessed through the Investing Caffeine (IC) website constitutes investment, financial, legal, tax or other advice nor is to be relied on in making an investment or other decision. Please read disclosure language on IC “Contact” page.

May 26, 2011 at 11:28 pm 3 comments

Will the Fiscal Donkey Fly?

Source: TopPayingIdeas.com/blog

Will Barack Obama become a “one-termer” like somewhat recent Presidents,  Democrat Jimmy Carter (1977-1981) and Republican George H.W. Bush #41 (1989-1993)? Or will Obama get the Democratic donkey off the ground like Bill Clinton managed to do after the 1994 mid-term election when Republican Newt Gingrich spearheaded the Contract with America, which led to a similar Republican majority in the House of Representatives. Clinton’s approval ratings were in the dumps at the time, comparable to voter’s current lackluster opinion of Obama and his spending spree (see also Profitless Healthcare).

Source: Gallup

 Reagan Rebound

Similarly, Republican Ronald Reagan (1981-1989) was picking up the pieces with his lousy approval rating after the 1982 midterm election. Tax cuts, “trickle-down” supply side economics, and a tough stance on the Russian Cold War turned around the economy and his approval rating and catapulted him to reelection in a landslide victory. Reagan carried 49 states with the help of Reagan Democrats (one-quarter of registered Democrats voted for him).

Source: The Wall Street Journal

One should be clear though, popularity is not the only factor that plays into reelection success. George H. W. Bush had the highest average approval rating in five decades (60.9% approval), only superseded by John F. Kennedy (70.1% approval). The economy, international politics, and other external factors also play a large role in the reelection process.

Flying Donkey Time?

If President Obama wants to get the Democratic donkey off the ground and raise his current approval rating of 47% and remedy his self-admitted “shellacking” by the Republicans, then he will need to shift his hard-left political agenda more towards the middle, like Clinton did in 1994. If he leads on ideology alone, then the next two years will likely be a long tough slog for him and his Democratic colleagues.

In order to shift toward the center and gain more Independent voters, Obama will need to find common ground with Republicans and Tea-Partiers. Obama has already conceded in principle to extend the Bush tax cuts, but if he wants to gain more political capital, he will have to gain some ground in the area of fiscal responsibility. With the help of a strong economy, Clinton managed to run surpluses, but front and center today is a $1.3 trillion deficit and over $13 trillion in debt. The first step in building any credibility on the issue will come on December 1st when the president’s bi-partisan commission for deficit reduction will release its report.

It will be interesting which party will show leadership in making unpopular spending cuts, just as the 2012 re-election cycle just begins. The elephants in the room are the entitlements (Medicare and Social Security), and although less talked about, efficient cuts to defense spending should be put on the table. Sure, pork barrel spending, inefficient subsidies, tax loopholes, are gaps that need to be filled, but they alone are rounding errors given our country’s unsustainable current circumstances. Whether or not politicians (red or blue) will point out the unpopular elephants in the room will be interesting to watch.

Financial irresponsibility at the consumer and corporate level were major drivers behind the 2008-2009 financial crisis, and both individuals and businesses are responsibly adjusting their expense structures and balance sheets. Our government has to wake up to reality and adjust its expense structure and balance sheet too. Although foreign countries have reacted (i.e., European austerity), egotistical American politicians on both sides of the aisle haven’t quite woken up and smelled the coffee yet. Thank goodness for the democracy that we live in because citizens are pointing to the elephants in the room and demanding reckless spending and debt levels to come under control. If President Barack Obama doesn’t want to become another one-termer, he’ll have to move more to the center and get the finances of our country under control. If the stubborn donkey refuses to deal with reality and remains flightless, hopefully an elephant or ship-full of tea partiers can get this grass roots call for fiscal sanity off the ground.

Wade W. Slome, CFA, CFP®  

Plan. Invest. Prosper.  

www.Sidoxia.com

DISCLOSURE: Sidoxia Capital Management (SCM) and some of its clients own certain exchange traded funds, but at the time of publishing SCM had no direct position in any other security referenced in this article. No information accessed through the Investing Caffeine (IC) website constitutes investment, financial, legal, tax or other advice nor is to be relied on in making an investment or other decision. Please read disclosure language on IC “Contact” page.

November 8, 2010 at 12:31 am Leave a comment

Goldman Sachs in Talks to Acquire Treasury Department

Goldman-TreasuryAndy Borowitz from the Borowitz Report published an article a few months ago satirizing the ever increasing conspiracy theories being spread regarding Goldman Sachs’ (GS) role in the global financial crisis. Spearheading the scapegoating Goldman Sachs brigade is Matt Taibbi of Rolling Stone who wrote Inside The Great American Bubble Machine. Megan McArdle at The Atlantic has a detailed critique of Taibbi’s loose facts and outlandish generalizations.

 On a lighter note, here’s what Mr. Borowitz has to say about the Goldman Sachs/Treasury Department merger, with tongue firmly in cheek:

According to Goldman spokesperson Jonathan Hestron, the merger between Goldman and the Treasury Department is “a good fit” because “they’re in the business of printing money and so are we.” The Goldman spokesman said that the merger would create efficiencies for both entities: “We already have so many employees and so much money flowing back and forth, this would just streamline things.” Mr. Hestron said the only challenge facing Goldman in completing the merger “is trying to figure out which parts of the Treasury Dept. we don’t already own.” Goldman recently celebrated record earnings by roasting a suckling pig over a bonfire of hundred-dollar bills.

 

If Matt Taibbi is having difficulty coming up with some fresh new material, perhaps he could target some of these hotly debated areas of contention:  

  • The 40 year anniversary of NASA faking the moon landing.
  • The CIA assassination of John F. Kennedy and the 4th shot from the “grassy knoll.”
  • Crashed UFO aircraft remains stored at Area 51, Air Force base in Nevada.
  • Elvis still alive.
  • Paul McCartney actually dead.
  • 9/11 terrorist attacks government cover-up.
  • The creation of HIV/AIDS by the CIA.

If Bill Clinton can’t suppress sexual relations with Monica Lewinsky and Dick Cheney can’t hide the fact he shot someone in the face with a shotgun, I guess the Goldman crew is just better at pulling the wool over the eyes of 6.5 billion people…less one smart cookie, Matt Taibbi.

Wade W. Slome, CFA, CFP®

Plan. Invest. Prosper.

DISCLOSURE: Sidoxia Capital Management and client accounts do not have direct positions in GS at the time the article was published. No information accessed through the Investing Caffeine (IC) website constitutes investment, financial, legal, tax or other advice nor is to be relied on in making an investment or other decision. Please read disclosure language on IC “Contact” page.

September 11, 2009 at 4:00 am Leave a comment


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