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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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The Independent Investor: Japan — The Sun Is Beginning to Rise
Bill Schmick,
03:11PM / Thursday, June 02, 2011
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Readers should know by now that I'm a contrarian. The worse things seem to get, the more interested I become. Take Japan for example.

This island nation has suffered one economic bad spell after another for over 20 years. Japan is a depressing tale of economic and political mismanagement that has resulted in years of negative interest rates, a huge budget deficit, a stagnant economy, moribund stock market and a disillusioned and aging population. The massive earthquake and tsunami that triggered a nuclear disaster at a nuclear power plant in the eastern part of the country was seemingly the last straw that broke this country's back.

Japan is now officially in recession, which started

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@theMarket: Marking Time
Bill Schmick,
10:41PM / Friday, October 29, 2010
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This coming week will be a humdinger for the markets. The Federal Reserve is expected to begin a second round of quantitative easing and voters will deliver their verdict on the economy in mid-term elections. Both events will have ramifications for investors and stock markets worldwide.

The Fed's decision to further stimulate the economy via a second round of quantitative easing (QE II) has already been priced into the market, in my opinion, but the impact of the mid-term elections has not. If the Republicans gain a majority in the House and additional seats in the Senate, as many political pundits predict, then the markets have reason to rally in the months, if not weeks ahead.

For

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@theMarket: Precious Metals Gain While Stocks Mark Time
Bill Schmick,
03:38PM / Saturday, September 18, 2010
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As investors waited for stocks to make up their mind, gold and silver took off this week. Gold made new highs while silver's price level is higher than at any time since 1980. The question is will stocks follow that lead or fall back as they have the last two times the S&P 500 reached this level.

Up until this week, most people (including myself) were betting the market would roll over for a third time and head back to the lows or make new lows. However, thanks to recent economic data that has shed a more positive light on the health of the economy, bullish sentiment among investors has increased to slightly over 50 percent, the highest reading in two years, according to the American

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