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The Independent Investor: Intellectual Property Has Not Always Been So Important
By Bill Schmick,
04:33PM / Thursday, January 23, 2020
America's intellectual property (IP) is worth more than $6.6 trillion and employs 45 million Americans and hundreds of millions more worldwide. It is estimated that IP-intensive industries account for one-third of the country's total Gross Domestic Product and 52 percent of U.S. merchandise exports. It is why we, as a country, are fighting so hard to protect these rights today.   The figures above come from the U.S. Chamber of Commerce. If anything, they understate the value of IP to all of us. So what, exactly is IP? Generally, it is any product of the human intellect that the law protects from unauthorized use by others. Inventions, literary and artistic works,

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@theMarket: Fed Stimulus Continues to Pump the Markets
By Bill Schmick,
04:59PM / Friday, January 17, 2020
When asked, the members of the Federal Reserve Board continue to argue that the almost $500 million they have pumped into the overnight repurchase market since September is not quantitative easing. The stock market disagrees.   "Not QE" is the term most often used by the Street in describing this fairly hefty expansion of the central bank's balance sheet. Because the purchases that the Fed is making are categorized as debt instruments that mature in 12 months or less, they escape the hard and fast definition of what the Fed labels as quantitative easing. QE is the purchase of longer-dated maturities of debt instruments, so the Fed is technically

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The Independent Investor: Can We Afford 4 More Years of Trade Wars?
By Bill Schmick,
08:02PM / Thursday, January 16, 2020
The Phase One trade deal with China was signed with a great deal of pomp and circumstance this week. While happy that trade tensions on both sides have been reduced, the vast majority of Wall Street players saw the deal as a win for China.   After almost three years of threats, bluster and on-again-off-again tariffs, we are right back where we were before Donald Trump was elected. Yes, China has agreed to purchase an additional $200 billion in U.S. goods over the next two years, but the trade deficit was always the wrong metric when comparing our overall trade with China.   Trade imbalances are caused by capital flows. Don't take my word for it, just ask any

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@theMarket: The Teflon Markets
By Bill Schmick,
04:12PM / Friday, January 10, 2020
It was another up week for the stock market. As we hit record high after record high, investors want more and expect to get it. Forecasts are getting even rosier for this year and, if all goes well, we can expect the signing of the long-awaited Phase One China trade deal next week. What's not to like?   Geopolitics for one thing. As I wrote last week, investors should expect a response after the killing of Iran's No. 2 guy, Gen. Qasem Soleimani. I expressed hope that it would be sooner rather than later since the market hates the unknown. That turned out to be the case.   The Iranian response, however, was largely symbolic. Several rockets that did

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The Independent Investor: China's role in Iran
By Bill Schmick,
04:40PM / Thursday, January 09, 2020
The de-escalation of the potential conflict between Iran and the United States sent markets higher this week. It could have turned out much differently. The question is why did the situation  defused so rapidly, and who really is responsible for that outcome? I'm thinking it was China.   Taking out the number two guy in Iran, Maj. Gen. Qassem Soleimani, in a U.S. drone attack last week was a highly provocative move. The world expected push-back from Iran and feared a tit-for-tat escalation on both sides. That didn't happen. Sure, the Iranians did lob a dozen-plus missiles at two military bases across their border into Iraq, but relatively little damage resulted

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