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Dec 15, 2009

Sit down with a man who’s sat down with 15 top traders

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Market Watch: Tuesday Personal Finance Stories

Tuesday's Personal Finance stories

By MarketWatch

Don't miss these top stories:

Don't look for anything extra in your year-end paycheck. Less than one-quarter of U.S. companies will give their employees a Christmas bonus this year, a nearly 20 percentage point drop from last year, as cost-cutting remains the order of the day.

We're not talking here about the big bonuses that companies may be obligated to pay their top performers under compensation plans or contracts, the ones that Wall Street gets and that have caused so much furor this year. These are the handouts to Main Street workers, maybe a couple hundred bucks if you're lucky, that companies used to routinely give as simply a thank-you to employees for a job well done over the year.

In the grand scheme of things that money doesn't matter much. And this year you may actually feel that the old miser-company retort to complaints about holiday Scrooginess -- your job is your bonus -- is absolutely alright with you.

But on an individual and family level, those bonuses can mean a lot at holiday time, as does the recognition by your employer that maybe you actually do count for something.

-- Steve Kerch, assistant managing editor/personal finance


Year-end bonuses join endangered species list

At U.S. workplaces, the holidays just aren't what they used to be. Companies are scaling back on holiday parties, if they're having one at all, and the annual holiday bonus -- a Christmas tradition for some workers -- is no longer so traditional.
See Careers.


Finding a family to split care costs can your relationship skills

I've been dumped. Stephanie was nice about it, but the message was clear: I'm just not that into you, or your baby. I was hoping she and I could work out a nanny-share arrangement in which we'd split the cost of a nanny to watch our two babies during the work day. But no.
See Diary of a Recession Baby.


It's world war in 2030 if Obama fails climate test

Obama the game-changer saves Copenhagen? Uses his new Nobel "Just War" doctrine, takes command, unifies world in a "Just War" on climate change, the biggest economic issue facing the world in the 21st century? Maybe, maybe not. But if he doesn't, Copenhagen fails. America is the game-fixer in the do-nothing scenario. Worse: Population growth will eventually outstrip depleting resources. Without a long-term economic strategy and a leader, we may not survive into the next century.
See Paul B. Farrell.

Political showdowns in Copenhagen

Environmental reporter Jeffrey Ball reports from Copenhagen, where political clashes are taking place outside and delegates are staging walkouts inside the COP15 Climate Conference.
 Watch Video Report.

Administration is doing the opposite of creating jobs

Although it thinks it is working to create jobs, the administration is actually doing just the opposite. The first stimulus package is a prime example of Washington's wrong-headed thinking. So far it has created few, if any, new jobs for two reasons.
See Irwin Kellner.


'Dogs of Dow' theory hasn't worked in 2009, hit by GE, AT&T

Established companies with steep dividends compared to their share prices underperformed this year, putting an investment theory called the "Dogs of the Dow" squarely in -- you guessed it -- the doghouse.
See Market Snapshot.

Dan Seiver continues to predict higher Treasury bond yields

Though the Federal Reserve isn't expected to make any changes to its interest-rate policy when it meets this week, long-term interest rates are nevertheless headed higher.
See Mark Hulbert.

Kraft stock looks tasty

Kraft, the company behind Jell-O, Oreos and Stove Top stuffing, is paying a tasty 4.3% dividend on its stock. It looks pretty safe. And unlike the bread and water you're currently getting on bank accounts, savings and even bonds, this dividend income is taxed lightly (at just 5% or 15%, depending on your income).
See Brett Arends.


President pressures bankers to lend more; back reform bill

President Barack Obama on Monday pressed the chief executives of the nation's largest banks to lend more to small businesses, increase their assistance to troubled homeowners and end their opposition to bank regulatory reform legislation moving on Capitol Hill.
See Consumer Banking.


Vinyl makes a comeback

Steven Kurutz tells the News Hub's Simon Constable the reasons why vinyl has lasting appeal in the digital age.
 Watch Video Report.

An electronic plant doctor

Stacey Delo tests the EasyBloom Plant Sensor, which notifies owners if their plants need water or more sunshine.
 Watch Video Report.


Stars of comedy return to Second City

Before they hit it big, many of today's most popular comedic actors spent time at Second City. Alumni celebrated the institution's 50th anniversary this weekend in Chicago. Amy Hoak reports.
 Watch Video Report.


New health proposal could help consumers

A bipartisan coalition including Sens. Ron Wyden, D-Ore., Evan Bayh, D-Ind., and Susan Collins R-Maine, wants to let consumers pocket the difference if they can find a health plan cheaper than the one their employer offers, Janet Adamy reports.
 Watch Video Report.

Is flawed health bill better than none?

Jerry Seib debates whether Democrats will ultimately conclude it's better politically to pass a controversial and divisive piece of legislation than to pass nothing at all.
 Watch Video Report.

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FORBES. com : Commentary Newsletter

Claudia Rosett On Global Conflicts
Claudia Rosett
Who will go nuclear first?

The Recession Is Over--No Thanks To Stimulus
Brian S. Wesbury and Robert Stein
Why is Larry Summers calling for more spending? Nurturing Employment Recovery
Joel Kotkin
Quality, not just quantity, of jobs is vital to sustainable economic growth
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U.S. Department of Treasury - Press Room

Press Room

December 15, 2009

U.S. – Israel Joint Economic Development Group Mid-Year Review Joint Statement

Delegations of the United States and Israel discussed the status of the U.S. and Israeli economies, the progress of Israel's economic reforms, and ways to enhance high-tech cooperation during the U.S.-Israel Joint Economic Development Group (JEDG) 2009 Mid-Year Review, held today in Jerusalem. The U.S. delegation was led by Andy Baukol, Acting Assistant Secretary of the Treasury for International Affairs, and Tom Engle, Director of the Office of Monetary Affairs at the Department of State. The Israeli delegation was led by Stanley Fischer, Governor of the Bank of Israel, Chaim Shani, Director General of the Israeli Ministry of Finance, and Eugene Kandel, Chairman of the Israeli National Economic Council.
During the JEDG Mid-Year Review, Israel presented its progress towards meeting conditions for the release of 2009 and 2010 loan guarantees, as agreed to at the June 2009 JEDG, subject to statutory deductions.  The U.S. delegation commended Israel for being on track to meet its 2009 fiscal targets, which includes a maximum 1.7 percent plus 1.35 percent (3.05 percent in all) increase in real expenditures over 2008 spending, and a maximum 6 percent of GDP budget deficit.
The delegations also discussed possibilities to expand high-tech cooperation, with the goals of promoting job creation, innovation, and business-to-business collaboration.  Both countries noted the success of existing bi-national foundations and institutions that have substantively enhanced bilateral private-sector high-tech cooperation.  
The United States looks forward to receiving a report from the Government of Israel in early 2010 detailing whether it has met 2009 conditions connected to the U.S. Fiscal Year (FY) 2010 loan guarantee tranche of $333 million.  As of December 15, 2009, Israel has $3.148 billion available in U.S. loan guarantees, subject to statutory deductions.
The United States and Israel look forward to continued discussions at the 2010 JEDG, tentatively scheduled for May or June 2010 in Jerusalem.

Gata Dispatches: Extreme Speculation

Ted Butler: Extreme speculation

4:50p ET Monday, December 14, 2009
Dear Friend of GATA and Gold (and Silver):
Silver market analyst Ted Butler's new commentary is a speculation on the possibility and consequences of a default by the New York Commodities Exchange's silver futures market. The short position there, Butler writes, is so huge and concentrated that it could not possibly be delivered from Comex warehouses or world production. Of course this does not address the possibility that there is some secret U.S. government silver stockpile underwriting the short position, which has to be considered, since the short position is almost entirely in the hands of the U.S. government's main agent in the financial markets, JPMorganChase & Co. But even any greater transparency arranged in the precious metals futures markets by the U.S. Commodity Futures Trading Commission could prove sensational. Butler's commentary is headlined "Extreme Speculation" and you can find it at GoldSeek's companion Internet site, SilverSeek, here:
CHRIS POWELL, Secretary/Treasurer
Gold Anti-Trust Action Committee Inc.

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Money Morning

December 15, 2009
How to Profit From the "Evil Genius" of Goldman Sachs

By Martin Hutchinson, Contributing Editor, Money Morning
In this era of growing government involvement, it's no surprise that Washington is poised to be the biggest economic wild card of the new year.
Indeed, investors who are trying to estimate the impact that politics will have on their portfolios in 2010 are likely finding this attempt at analysis to be an exercise in futility.
If that's been the case, read on: Political pundits - even those who claim to be impartial - spend a lot of time trying to score points for their side. But they aren't really that interested in the economic aspects of the endless battle. I certainly don't claim to be any more unbiased than the next person. However, I thought it worth trying to take an educated guess at what will actually happen, and what it will mean for our money.
Let me explain...

Hutchinson on...
The Hottest Places to Invest in 2010
- Three Reasons Commodities Prices Will Continue to Soar in the New Year

30 Times More Profitable Than Stocks

Stocks have made remarkable gains. But Martin Hutchinson has uncovered a bull market that's making up to 30 times more than mainstream stocks. And it has nothing to do with options, penny stocks or foreign stock markets. Martin's identified 5 opportunities in this market he guarantees will make 225% by early 2010. See here...

Sponsored content

Markman on the Markets: Historic Bull Run in Bonds Points to Higher Prices for U.S. Stocks

By Jon D. Markman, Contributing Writer, Money Morning

A sluggish month in the stock market has equity investors worrying about what's next.

But those equity investors would feel so much better if they'd just spend a little time studying the credit markets. And with good reason: The bull market in credit that continues to rage in the face of this stock-market lethargy leads us to one simple conclusion.

Stock prices have to head higher.

Indeed, independent analyst Brian Reynolds tells us that if stocks were trading at the same level as credit, the Standard & Poor's 500 Index would already be at 1,350 - 22% above where it closed on Friday.

For those who argue that the market has already rallied a great deal, or too much, let me just note that the S&P 500 would have to rise by another 41% just to get back to the level of three years ago. The key thing that bulls have in their back pocket is that investors are still trying to get used to the idea that the sky hasn't fallen - and have not yet priced in the prospects for a 25% increase in S&P 500 profits that we are likely to see in 2010.