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Buffett bets stocks markets will rise

When it comes to dispensing life-coaching advice, I go with optimism over pessimism every time. What's to be gained by embracing the blues?

In the world of finance, however, there are times when we have to work a little harder to keep our chins up. Like right now when the stock market has slipped into negative territory for the year.

At times like this, I'm prompted to Google Warren Buffett to see what he's up to. Now there's a long-term optimist who puts his money where his mouth is.

Big problems come with real simple solutions

Most of today's problems have relatively simple solutions.

The deficit? No problem. Raise the highest marginal tax bracket from 35 percent back up to 40 percent and collect $700 billion over the next 10 years. Then, at the same time, cut military spending back to the levels of 10 years ago and save $350 billion per year.

Oil spill in the Gulf? Let the courts do what they do routinely to small business and BP will have paid over $1 trillion dollars while operating under court supervision. And now for the details:

401(k) fees attracting federal regulations

On July 15, the Department of Labor lived up to the motto emblazoned on the 50-foot-long bronze sculpture in the lobby of its Washington office: "Protecting the Rights of American Workers." The department finalized fee-disclosure regulations that should lead to more informed decisions on the part of retirement plan decision-makers -- company owners and officers who control more than 700,000 plans and $3 trillion.

This will end today's hidden costs and increase retirement nest eggs over time by as much as 20 to 30 percent.

Long-term successful stock picking not easy

Someone who happened to buy some Apple stock within the past five years is in danger of thinking that they have become a stock-picking genius. If this describes you, get ready to become your own worst enemy as an investor.

To consistently make money investing in individual stocks is extremely difficult. I was reminded of this recently as I read Phil Town's new book, "Payback Time -- Making Big Money Is the Best Revenge." It reminded me of an earlier book from 2001 by John Spooner with the catchy title, "Do You Want to Make Money or Would You Rather Fool Around."

Smaller, regional banks more efficient

In "Miami Vice," the movie, detectives Sonny Crockett and Rico Tubbs successfully duke it out with a Colombian drug cartel only to be frustrated in the end by a senior American banking official in a palatial New York office. The high-ranking banker, treating actors Colin Farrell and Jamie Foxx like they were 2-year-olds, explains that he can't allow them to get in the way of the bank's highly lucrative relationships with drug syndicates.

I found myself thinking, "Can they really do that? Was there an element of truth?"

Why stocks are not responding to growth

They say the market climbs on a "wall of worry," and most of that worrying comes from the Nattering Nabobs of Negativism out there in the community of economists and short sellers. I spent a morning last week listening to Alan Beaulieu, a widely-respected and historically accurate economist and principal at the Institute for Trend Research. Folded up in my breast pocket was the latest newsletter from Norm Fosback of "Fosback's Fund Forecaster" fame and author of "Stock Market Logic."

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