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Jim Cook

 

RUNAWAY SOCIAL SYMPATHY

Every once in a while I switch the TV channel from Fox to CNBC to see what the liberals are saying.  After listening awhile I get a deep sense of hopelessness and foreboding for our country.  The most important thing for the left is giving money to people.  They are happy to see the growth of food stamps, disability payments, housing subsidies, free healthcare and all the other welfare benefits.  They utterly fail to see the damage it is doing to the recipients.  Whole cities that once flourished have deteriorated into rotting eyesores populated with shambling hulks of chemically dependent drones.  These people are no longer employable.  They have become incompetent and helpless and the liberals can’t see that it’s their doing.

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The Best of Jim Cook Archive

 
Best of Peter Schiff
April 19, 2011
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Late to The Party...Once Again

The only thing more ridiculous than S&P's too little too late semi-downgrade of U.S. sovereign debt was the market's severe reaction to the announcement. Has S&P really added anything to the debate that wasn't already widely known? In any event, S&P's statement amounts to a wake up call to anyone who has somehow managed to sleepwalk through the unprecedented debt explosion of the last few years.

Given S&P's concerns that Congress will fail to address its long-term fiscal problems, on what basis can it conclude that the U.S. deserves its AAA credit rating? The highest possible rating should be reserved for fiscally responsible nations where the fiscal outlook is crystal clear. If S&P has genuine concerns that the U.S. will not deal with its out of control deficits, the AAA rating should be reduced right now.

By its own admission, S&P is unsure whether Congress will take the necessary steps to get America's fiscal house in order. Given that uncertainty, it should immediately reduce its rating on U.S. sovereign debt several notches below AAA. Then if the U.S. does get its fiscal house in order, the AAA rating could be restored. If on the other hand, the situation deteriorates, additional downgrades would be in order.

AAA is the highest rating S&P can give. It is the Wall Street equivalent to a "strong buy." If a stock analyst has serious concerns that a company may go bankrupt, would he maintain a "strong buy" on the assumption that there was still a possibility that bankruptcy could be averted? If the company declared bankruptcy, would the analyst reduce his rating from "strong buy" to "accumulate"? 

In truth, if bankruptcy is even possible, the rating should be reduced to "hold," at best. Only if the outlook improves to the point where bankruptcy is out of the picture should a stock be upgraded to "buy." A "hold" rating would at least send the message to potential buyers that problems loom. Then if the company does declare bankruptcy, at least it does not do so sporting a "buy" rating.

Of course, by shifting to a negative outlook, S&P will try to have its cake and eat it too. In the unlikely event that Congress does act responsibly to restore fiscal prudence, its AAA would be validated. If on the other hand, out of control deficits lead to outright default or hyperinflation, it will hang its hat on the timely warning of its negative outlook. This is like a stock analyst putting a strong buy on a stock, but qualifying the rating as being speculative.