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In many ways 2017 was one of the most surprising years in recent memory. Back in January there were few optimists around. After all, the economic expansion and bull market had gone on for almost nine years, making it one of the longest on record, and all good things come to an end sometime. Investors were worried that a hard landing in China would result from the huge build-up in debt there, a large portion of which was believed to be non-performing. The decision by the United Kingdom to leave the European Union made many investors nervous about the ability of the alliance to continue….

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If you think President Trump has an antagonistic relationship with the press now, just wait until his administration slaps a new 30% tax on newsprint.
Seriously. Thats the threat Americas newspaper publishers are warning about, with the Commerce Departments International Trade Administration set to issue a preliminary determination by March 7, 2018on whether Canadas export into the United States of certain uncoated groundwood paper meets the legal tests to qualify for countervailing duties under the Tariff Act of 1930.
The publisher of Maines largest newspaper, the…

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An anti-dumping petition launched by a hedge fund has the potential to drive up the cost of newspapers and even drive some small-town newspapers out of business, leaving their subscribers with less access to information about what is happening in their own community. Isnt it time to take a good look at whether anti-dumping measures make any sense at all for consumers? Especially when almost all products require inputs from beyond any one nations borders
The anti-dumping petition in question was brought by the North Pacific Paper Company, which was recently acquired by a New York-based…

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There is a certain majesty to it, an unmistakable appeal that draws you in to its web. If the eurodollar were something else, an art piece or some ancient scroll of poetry, there would be no denying both its beauty and its significance. From the standpoint of an outside observer, it is oftentimes hard not to get lost in the thing as a stunning wonder of mankinds creation, easily forgetting in the process all the rest.
Its been ten years now, more than ten years, and what counts is that all the rest keeps coming at you with regularity. Repo fails in the middle this month, the week…

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As we approach a new year, its common to think about life goals and how we aim to achieve them. Here are three simple ideas you can take into 2018 to improve your chances of investing well.
Be optimistic
My wifes Grandma Etta frequently says: Life is good. Its a simple dose of wisdom, but I appreciate the reminder.
A simple fact to remember about stocks is: they go up more often than they go down. And the longer you extend your time horizon, the better the probability for a positive result.

Next time you run into a perma-bear, remind them: Stocks are good.
Also,…

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Its a well-known historical truth at this point, but Seattle, WA used to be a poor, run-down city. Now its a gleaming, really rich city.
To drive through it, or better yet to see it by boat is to be stunned by all the wealth creation thats taking place there. While downcast talk in the early 1970s was sarcastically about the last person turning off the proverbial lights in a city that the talented had departed, so full of talent is Seattle today that its downtown cant house it all. Sure enough, the greater Seattle area has not one, but two skylines. Redmonds seemingly…

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Whatever you think of New Year’s resolutions, a not-so-friendly suggestion for one is heading your way across the Pacific. On January 1, China, which uses “recyclables” as industrial feedstocks, will begin refusing shipments that don’t meet its new, higher standards. The prospect of burying our recyclables has made some environmentalists lament the “decades of recycling progress under threat,” and others wish the change “will make recycling stronger.” Predictably (and incorrectly), greens are reusing the cliché about the Chinese word for crisis meaning both danger and opportunity. Since when…

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NEW YORK (AP) It was a strong year for the stock market, but 2017 was a great year if you made airplanes (think Boeing), were an online juggernaut (Amazon) or built homes (KB Homes). It was a year to forget if you were an energy company (Chesapeake) made Barbie dolls (Mattel) or if you were a storied industrial conglomerate about to go on a radical slim-down program (General Electric).
The stock market had a banner year overall, but there were plenty of big winners, and big losers, among individual U.S. companies. Heres a look at a few of them.
THE WINNERS
THE MIGHTY…

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WASHINGTON (AP) Craft breweries are raising a glass to the Republicans new tax overhaul: It cuts the excise tax on beer. Retailers, long saddled with heavy tax bills, will get relief. So will some high-profile names in corporate finance, led by Wells Fargo.
The tax measure that President Donald Trump signed into law Friday distributes benefits across a range of American industries, from construction to health care.
As a general rule of thumb, everybodys doing well under this bill, Martin Sullivan, chief economist at Tax Analysts, says of U.S. companies. When you give out a…

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The people of Wisconsin gave Taiwan-based Foxconn a billion-dollar gift for Christmas, on top of $3 billion they had already promised the company. So far, they havent even received a thank-you card just the promise of the most expensive taxpayer-funded jobs in history.
This summer, Wisconsin politicians announced they had lured a new Foxconn LCD flat panel plant to southeast Wisconsin with a $3 billion incentive package, in return for a $10 billion investment from the company. But, like many government giveaways to the corporate sector, the bill to taxpayers has gotten even bigger. The…

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With President Trumps signing of the big tax-cut bill, the GOP snatched victory from the jaws of defeat. Suddenly, the political and economic landscapes have changed. The Republican party has turned the tables on the Democrats.
Trump and the GOP are on the side of the growth angels with the passage of powerful tax-cut legislation to boost business investment, wages, and take-home family pay. The Democrats, meanwhile, are left with stale class-warfare slogans about tax cuts for the rich.
Ironically, government unions, with their pension plans heavily invested in equity shares, will benefit…

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Very early in the morning of November 5, 1956, the 668 men of the 3rdBattalion of the British 16th Independent Parachute Brigade, the famed Red Devils, boarded their Hastings and Valetta transport planes in Nicosia, Cyprus. They were bound for the El Gamil airfield, a narrow strip of land about three miles west of the Egyptian city of Port Said. Their objective was to secure the airbase, destroy a bridge west of the field, and then push toward the city linking up with RM Commandos in order to clear enemy forces in preparation for larger amphibious landings the next day.
The Red Devils were…

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No one wants to be the skunk at the garden party. Nevertheless, it must be said: The decision by large companies like AT&T, Boeing and Comcast to provide employee bonuses as a form of tribute in return for tax cuts and other government favors is an example of crony capitalism at its worst, not market capitalism at its best.
AT&T, facing a Department of Justice suit aimed at blocking its $84.5 billion purchase of Time Warner, greeted the corporate tax cut with an immediate promise to provide a $1,000 bonus to each of its 200,000 employees, and $1 billion in capital expenditures. For all…

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Here we are in the home stretch of my 15 Surprises for 2018. Here are Surprises Nos. 11 through 15 (click here or here for the previous surprises.)
Surprise #11: Company Share Buybacks Drop Dramatically
Contrary to the consensus, slowing domestic economic growth, rising interest rates, contracting corporate profit margins, disappointing S&P profit growth and political uncertainty weigh on buybacks, which plummet to a three-year low despite the tax bill’s cash repatriation provision and a sharp drop in the corporate tax rate.
Surprise #12: European Bonds Sour
The European Central Bank (ECB)…

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On Wednesday morning, I found myself on the frontlines of retail America, with the Christmas shopping season coming down to the wire. My experience was wonderfully positive when it came to the people serving customers. As for the customers, well, that was more of a mixed bag.
Let me explain. I spent Tuesday night wrestling with a MacBook laptop that didnt want to boot up. After trying assorted remedies found online, I called Apple, and spoke with a helpful person from tech support. We walked through a few potential remedies, but still no dice. He suggested I take the computer to an Apple…

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