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The Retired Investor: Where Have All the Christmas Trees Gone?
By Bill Schmick,
04:22PM / Thursday, December 24, 2020
If you are one of those eleventh-hour holiday Christmas tree shoppers, you may be out of luck this year. Fresh balsam furs and other varieties of the traditional Yule symbol are hard to find.   Blame the pandemic on the scarcity, but at the same time, celebrate the fact that more families than ever before are getting together this holiday season.  And decorating that tree could be an intensely personal experience for the whole family.   My wife, Barbara, and I actually set up our tree on Thanksgiving weekend. Given our ages, we chose to forgo turkey day with our loved ones, who reside in Manhattan, and tried to fill that emotional hole with something else.

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The Retired Investor: Oil's Comeback
By Bill Schmick,
01:55PM / Friday, December 18, 2020
Earlier this year, the price of West Texas Intermediate crude oil slumped into negative territory for the first time in history. Oil traded at a negative $37.63. Today, that same barrel of oil is changing hands at $47.48. What changed?   More than any other sector, the coronavirus has had a devastating impact on the global oil and gas industry. Declining consumer demand in the first quarter of the year in combination with high levels of energy production threatened to exceed worldwide oil storage capacity. OPEC plus, the oil cartel, took action on April 12 by cutting oil production by 9.7 million barrels per day, but by then it was too late. By April 20-22, you couldn't

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@theMarket: Same Old Stimulus Song
By Bill Schmick,
01:00PM / Saturday, December 12, 2020
Investors should know better by now. Stimulus talks have been going on since July 2020, but politicians in the capital appear to be stuck on the same old issues. Unfortunately, the deadline for a 2020 compromise bill is less than three weeks away.   It is anyone's guess whether the nation's economic and pandemic plight will win over partisan politics. It hasn't so far. The financial markets are not taking kindly to failure at this point. The all-time highs we have been enjoying for the last two weeks have been built on investors' near certainty that at least $900 billion in new Federal stimulus money would be forthcoming shortly.   Those funds

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The Retired Investor: Markets Ignore China Sanctions
By Bill Schmick,
01:08PM / Friday, December 11, 2020
During the past few weeks of this presidency, both the Trump administration and Congress have levied additional sanctions against the People's Republic of China. Financial markets and U.S. corporations have largely ignored those efforts; here's why.   Investors have learned over the past four years that tough talk on trade tariffs, blacklisting and other threats were largely ineffectual in curtailing the world's second largest economy. The facts are that U.S. tariffs on Chinese goods have been a failure. Our trade deficit with China is higher now than it was before the trade wars.   China's trade gap with the U.S. was 43 percent bigger in

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@theMarket: Markets Bet on Stimulus Sweepstakes
By Bill Schmick,
03:36PM / Friday, December 04, 2020
The first week of December saw all three major averages climb to minor new highs. The trigger was more good news on the delivery timetable of the coronavirus vaccines. The expected speedy distribution of the first batch of wonder drugs encouraged investors, even while the number of COVID-19 deaths and cases nationwide continued to skyrocket.   In addition, a new dose of hopeium has infected investors on the stimulus front. The Democrats $2.2 trillion proposal has gone nowhere since July, thanks to the Republican-controlled Senate. The Democrats then reduced their price tag in an effort to forge a compromise before the election, but the Republicans refused to spend more than

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