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Central banks are still adding gold bullion to their reserves and the smaller countries are getting into the act big-time. According to the International Monetary Fund (IMF), in the month of March, Iraq’s central bank added 36 tonnes of gold bullion to its reserves—worth about $1.5 billion. This…

For a moment, consider yourself a loan officer at a major bank. Would you approve a loan for a customer who says they earn $1,000 a month, spend $1,300 a month, and don’t have a job? They also tell you they have unpaid debts of $17,000. I don’t…

The eurozone and Europe are showing progress in finally getting out of their dismal multiyear double-dip recession; however, the uncertainties and hostilities unfolding in the Crimea region of Ukraine, which are threatening to escalate, could put a damper on the economic renewal in Europe. With the recent vote…

The U.S. national debt has skyrocketed from $9.2 trillion in the beginning of 2008 to $17.3 trillion today. This represents an increase of more than 88% in just a matter of a few years. (Source: Treasury Direct web site, last accessed March 11, 2014.) The national debt of…

Among blue chips, Johnson & Johnson (JNJ) remains one of the most attractive enterprises for long-term investors. As a benchmark stock within the entire equity universe and a conglomerate itself of healthcare businesses, it’s reasonable to expect a stock like this to provide a normalized annual return of…

Consumer spending in the U.S. economy is highly correlated to consumer confidence. If consumers are worried about the economy, they pull back on their spending. The Conference Board Consumer Confidence Index decreased by 1.63% in February from January. (Source: Conference Board, February 25, 2014.) And we see the…

Whenever I got stuck solving a problem in elementary school, my teacher would say, “go back and see where you went wrong.” This lesson—“learn from your mistakes”—was taught again in high school, and then throughout my life. It’s very simple: you can’t do the same thing over and…

In the first five weeks of this year, investors bought $22.0 billion worth of long-term stock mutual funds. (Source: Investment Company Institute, February 12, 2014.) But as investors poured money into the stock market, hoping to ride the 2013 wave of higher stock prices, stocks did the opposite…

For the first time in more than three years, Chinese stocks are beginning to show some promise for growth investors looking for opportunities outside of the United States. The benchmark Shanghai Composite Index has moved to just above its close of 2013; hence, it’s more or less in…

In 2013, the U.S. economy, as measured by gross domestic product (GDP), rose at an average rate of 1.9% compared to 2.8% in 2012. And as it stands, GDP may slow further in 2014. What makes me think this? In January, U.S. industrial production declined by 0.3% from…

Old Man Winter appears to be killing the retail sector and the economic renewal. Extreme cold and nasty weather has engulfed about 70% of the country, reaching as far south as Georgia, North Carolina, and Texas, which don’t traditionally experience winter weather. All that nasty weather means less…

The Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) is currently shutting down numerous Chinese shell companies trading on U.S. exchanges, such as the over-the-counter market and the highly speculative Pink Sheets stock exchange. This is good and is something the SEC needs to continue to pursue and enforce, so domestic…

We are seeing some extreme nervousness building up around the stock market as investors scramble to the exits, fearing the next big market collapse is upon us. The anxiety level is high, as indicated by a surge in the Chicago Board Options Exchange (BOE) Volatility Index (VIX), but…

Don’t for a second believe consumer spending in the U.S. economy is improving! J. C. Penney Company, Inc. (NYSE/JCP) has announced it will be closing 33 stores in the U.S. economy. By doing this, the retailer will save about $65.0 million a year starting in 2014. 2,000 employees…

From what I’m seeing, Europe and the eurozone appear to be in play once again, following years of torment and two recessions. While there’s still a ways to go, you should put Europe on your radar, since a buying opportunity appears to be here. Now don’t go full-tilt…

Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke did something that many on Wall Street including myself did not believe he had the inclination to do: he began the tapering process in his final meeting as the head of the most powerful central bank in the world. The Federal Reserve will…

What the Federal Reserve is doing in the U.S.—its effort to get the economy going via its money printing program—has already been tried by the second-largest economy in the world: Japan. Unfortunately, the easy monetary policy implemented by the Bank of Japan didn’t spur the Japanese economy. So…

Finally some good news in the U.S. jobs market? The Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) reported Friday that, in November, 203,000 jobs were added to the U.S. jobs market. As a result, the unemployment rate went down to 7.0% from 7.3% in October. In addition to this, the…

On the surface, the recent U.S. GDP numbers looked great. I hear the U.S. economy grew at a revised annual pace of 3.6% in the third quarter of 2013—its fastest GDP growth rate since at least the financial crisis. (Source: Bureau of Economic Analysis, December 5, 2013.) But…