It was a fairly quiet start to the week in terms of the global economic news landscape, but we saw yet another triple-digit move as the markets continue to recoup some of what has been lost. Granted, volume continues to slip as the market rallies, a bit of green on the screen can always help investors ease out of underperforming investments with likely better prices.
Wall Street upgrades once again hit the credit card space, with Visa ( V ) and Capital One Financial ( COF ) gaining on today's calls. Also, shares of Toronto-Dominion Bank ( TD ) were up on news the company will acquire a large credit card portfolio. Banks seem perfectly willing to bet on the continuation of previous consumer spending habits. I guess these moves will make up for the lack of loan volume, as banks continue to be stringent regardless of the push from Washington to open the loan flow spigot.
IBM Corp ( IBM ) shares were higher as well, following a bullish analyst call. On the flip side, earnings results pushed shares of Estee Lauder ( EL ) and Sysco Corporation ( SYY ) lower. Speaking of earnings, I wanted to pass on an interesting nugget from investment research and data firm Bespoke Invest, which reported 7.28% of companies that have reported this season have raised guidance, while 6.33% have lowered guidance. The gap has narrowed to the lowest point in the last couple of years. The thought is this can potentially turn negative, something we are carefully monitoring as we continue to position our industry-leading "Best Dividend Stocks" List .
The markets have enjoyed a couple of days of calm, but many key issues still remain unresolved, and could easily push back to the forefront. Washington is in full 2012 election mode now, as we saw the latest fallout from who is "in "and who is "out" from the results of the Iowa Straw Poll this past weekend. It's the same pattern with all these elections. Candidates decide to run against all the things they see as wrong with the current administration, only to then paint everything as hunky-dory when they're elected to office. It's not just politics here in the U.S., but globally. Riots aren't coming out of the blue because people are bored. When you set up a "hand-out" system, whether it is unemployment insurance, welfare systems, etc., and not pay attention to the foundation that supports the ability to continue and add more dependents, things can turn quite volatile quickly. Nearly 15% of the U.S. population relied on food stamps in May, according to the United States Department of Agriculture, which is staggering. We need to examine how how and if these system are sustainable and make the necessary changes. And unfortunately, people are encouraged to spend rather than save.
A new poll from the National Foundation for Credit Counseling showed that a majority of Americans would not use an emergency fund to pay for unplanned expenses. Meanwhile, only 36 percent of respondents would take money from a savings account if they needed $1,000 for an unplanned expense. The other 64 percent of respondents would have to turn to other sources. Unfortunately, the other sources aren't good options and can lead to deeper financial problems.
* 17 percent would borrow from friends or family.
* 17 percent would disregard other monthly expenses
* 12 percent would sell or pawn assets
* 9 percent would take out a loan
* 9 percent would get a cash advance on a credit card.
A University of Missouri study revealed 59 percent of Chinese urban households save for education, such as college tuition, while only 19 percent of Americans report an education saving motives. There was no strong significance in the difference in retirement savings; however low income Chinese households reported saving more for retirement than low income American households. Here's the key, and it goes with what I am pointing out above. There is no safety net of unemployment insurance and other welfare programs in China, which force citizens to be more proactive about their financial needs. Also, there is no sound social security system in China.
No one is saying to do away with our welfare programs, but let's start pushing some education and timetables to getting people in a "fend for yourself" mindset sooner than later. This will translate into hard choices for elected officials, but if you can clearly illustrate the benefits of working versus collecting unemployment, we may yet see the tide turn. Handouts are rarely appreciated in the same way that earned money is. It's human nature.
If you've ever lent money to a friend or relative, who later asks for another loan, the answer is probably expected to be "yes." Tell them "no," however, and your previous good deed is quickly forgotten. In the same sense, Washington needs to say "no" to endless unemployment benefits and bailouts. Unfortunately, politicians are measuring their performance by that of the stock market. If the markets are up, the economy is fine - but that logic couldn't be further from the truth! If everyone in the country was invested, it'd be a different story, but I doubt many people rioting are sitting with six and seven-figure portfolios.
I hope everyone had a chance to check out our Dividend.com Premium members-only weekend articles, including the new features that highlight some of the biggest winners and losers from the week that was, including analyst upgrades/downgrades and earnings/story stocks. These articles are a great way to catch up on the week that was in the markets. We also have a rundown of how various Dividend ETFs performed on the week.
Thanks for reading everybody. I'll see you tomorrow!
The views and opinions expressed herein are the views and opinions of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of Nasdaq, Inc.
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