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The Independent Investor: Will Pot Stocks Go Up in Smoke?
By Bill Schmick,
05:29PM / Thursday, March 21, 2019
Today, medical marijuana is legal in 33 states, while recreational marijuana is legal in 10 states, plus the District of Columbia. Although there has been progress, little of the recent enthusiasm and hype over pot stocks will come to naught unless the federal government does a major about face and legalizes the substance. What are the chances of that?   Billions of dollars' worth of investment, stock market gains, and federal, state, and local taxes are at stake. Predicting the outcome of such a change in federal legislation is, for now, like betting all your chips on red or black in a roulette game. Nonetheless, a growing number of retail investors want to "get

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The Independent Investor: Does Our Debt Really Matter?
By Bill Schmick,
04:34PM / Thursday, March 14, 2019
The country's national debt hovers at historically record highs, as the nation's budget battle begins. It's a pretty safe bet to expect another budget-busting compromise as well as a hefty increase to our already-overwhelming debt load.   At times like this I wonder whether Americans are facing the prospect that someday the United States could be the world's largest impoverished nation, and if so, does it really matter?   Last week's column examined the subject of debt, both private and domestic, and how large it has become. This week, I begin by asking why debt matters at all? On a personal level, we know the answer, but what about the

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@theMarket: Pick Your Poison
By Bill Schmick,
04:32PM / Friday, March 08, 2019
Investors were greeted on Friday with two nasty surprises. Both occurred in February. Chinese exports dropped by 20.7 percent, while in the U.S., the nation added a dismal 20,000 jobs. As you might expect, the stock market did not take the news well.   What really spooked traders was how far apart these numbers were to expectations. Over here, we were expecting 180,000 jobs to be added to the payroll number. In China, where the economy had been expected to weaken, exports had been forecasted to decline by 6 percent, versus the prior year.   Before the ink had dried on the jobs data, the administration was already sending their point man on the economy, Larry

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The Independent Investor: A Nation United in Debt
By Bill Schmick,
04:16PM / Thursday, March 07, 2019
About a month ago, the national debt topped $22 trillion for the first time. What's more, it only took a year to tack on another $1 trillion. Unless we do something soon, we could see those kinds of yearly borrowing double within the next decade.   Let's define U.S. debt as the sum of all outstanding debt owed by the federal government. Two-thirds of this debt is held by you and me. It is called public debt, while one-third is held by various inter-governmental departments and agencies such as Social Security and other trust funds.   We have the distinction of being the world's largest debtor, although the European Union is a close second. We now

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@theMarket: Stocks on Hold
By Bill Schmick,
04:26PM / Friday, March 01, 2019
February delivered good gains for the markets. All the main averages were up, continuing January's climb toward the old highs. This week, momentum stalled a bit, indicating that investors need more good news to continue buying.   A China trade agreement (or lack thereof) still takes center stage. Despite the Washington, D.C., circus surrounding the testimony of Michael Cohen, the president's chief "fixer" for over a decade, traders largely ignored the hype.   At the same time (no accident in the scheduling), President Donald Trump hoped to take the spotlight off Cohen and back on him by meeting with Kim Jung-un in Hanoi for a second summit.

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