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@theMarket: Fed Passes the Ball to Congress
Bill Schmick,
01:03PM / Saturday, August 27, 2011
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By now everyone knows the outcome of Ben Bernanke's speech at Jackson Hole on Friday. For those looking for a cure-all from the chairman of the Federal Reserve, his speech was a disappointment.

Overall, the markets were not nearly as disappointed as one might imagine. I suspect the smart money (see Thursday's column "Can the Fed Save the Markets") was not expecting much in the way of new programs. Of course, Chairman Bernanke promised to take another look at the economy on Sept. 20, when next the FOMC meets, but don't hold your breath.

Although the Fed still has some tools it could use if necessary, the Fed is not omnipotent when it comes to stimulating the economy. There

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Independent Investor: Can the Fed Avert Another Selloff?
Bill Schmick,
11:23PM / Thursday, August 25, 2011
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The safe bet would be to write about something else because by the time you read this Federal Reserve Bank Chairman Ben Bernanke will have already given his speech in Jackson Hole, Wyo., scheduled for Friday morning. I'm betting that whatever he says won't be enough to save the stock market from further decline.

The stock market has been climbing over the last week in anticipation that the Federal Reserve will, like last year, announce another monetary stimulus program similar to QE II. There are several problems in betting on that outcome in my opinion.

No. 1 is investor's knee-jerk expectation that the government will save the stock market every time we have a selloff of 10 percent

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@theMarket: Where Is the Bottom?
Bill Schmick,
06:23PM / Friday, August 19, 2011
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Everyone seems to be looking for the same thing, an end to the pain, an end to the stress, a place where the selling stops. It's called a bottom and it appears to me that we haven't found one yet.

One contrary indicator is the sheer number of bottom fishers who are trying to outguess each other on how low the markets can go. Normally bottoms are reached when no one wants to buy and everyone believes the markets are never, ever coming back. So far, I have seen no evidence that investors are in that state of mind.

This has been a waterfall decline and as such, one can look back through history and see how markets have reacted to past selloffs of this type. If you haven't read my Aug. 11

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Independent Investor: Europe's Banking Crisis
Bill Schmick,
09:21PM / Thursday, August 18, 2011
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Investors are selling first and waiting for the facts later. Few can blame them given their experience in 2008-2009. Investors in the stock market sustained huge losses by naively believing that the financial sector and the government were in control of that crisis. This time around, no one believes anything they say.

The problem is compounded by the fact that this financial crisis is located in Europe where different rules apply, where the political and financial systems are different and where even the time zones play a part. Wednesday's panicked selloff was largely a result of a front-page story in the Wall Street Journal that revealed that the Federal Reserve Bank is scrutinizing the

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@theMarket: The Name of the Game — Dividends & Interest
Bill Schmick,
07:07AM / Saturday, August 13, 2011
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Last week, I advised investors to "wait for the bounce" before getting more defensive. We've had three bounces this week, so by now you are either out of your most aggressive investments or nearly so. Stay defensive.

Never has the Dow Jones Industrial Average experienced the kind of swings we have witnessed this week. With 400-500 point swings a day, up and down, it is clear to me that high frequency trading owns the stock market right now. It is no place for the individual investor.

"Have we put in a low?" asks a client from Northern Berkshire County.

It seems so, but only time will tell. I know that is a iffy answer but here's why: The S&P 500 Index has

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