San Bernardino, California.
And now, Orlando, Florida.
The list of American cities suffering a mass shooting tragically got longer over the weekend, when Omar Mateen attacked the Pulse nightclub just south of downtown Orlando. The 29-year-old security guard killed at least 49 individuals, and wounded another 53, before being shot dead by police officers.
President Obama labeled the attack an “act of terror and act of hate.” Mateen reportedly called 911 in the midst of the shootout and pledged his support to ISIS, and the terrorist group later tried to claim responsibility for the action.
Whether that turns out to be more bluster than reality doesn’t matter. Mateen’s attack was the worst mass shooting on U.S. soil, and the worst domestic terrorism attack since 9/11.
First and foremost, my thoughts and prayers go out to the families of the victims of this terrorist act. How we choose to respond as individuals is clearly a personal decision. We can give blood, donate more to our favorite charities, or simply find other ways to show that America is strong because we respond to senseless hate with overwhelming love and kindness.
|Once again, terrorism is filling newscasts worldwide.|
Next, I recommend you check out some of the work my colleague Dr. Jeff Cantor is doing right here in Money and Markets. Cantor is one of the country’s leading authorities on personal and international security, including how to prepare and respond to active shooters, domestic terrorism, and kidnappers who demand ransom. He’s also an expert in travel security as well as personal defense, including close-quarters combat and fighting with tactical, edged weapons.
His columns run on Thursdays, and you can read his past articles. There is some valuable information in them about how you can protect yourself and your family from potential threats.
As a financial analyst and writer, it’s also my job to put acts like these into a broader context — particularly with regards to what it means for markets. I said earlier this year that Europe’s economy could suffer in the wake of recent terrorist attacks there, and that those attacks were just in a list of reasons to avoid overcommitting capital to the region.
I actually think the economic impact will be more muted here. Tragic “lone wolf” attacks, like the one in Orlando, can happen at any time. They may have a short-term impact on tourism.
But the U.S. is still perceived as a safer destination, in part because we are much farther removed geographically from some of the world’s worst hotspots. It also doesn’t seem that terrorist groups like ISIS have the same kind of on-the-ground personnel and support networks here that they have in the Middle East or Europe.
If anything, this kind of news will likely reinforce the resolve of whichever presidential candidate wins this fall to boost defense spending. The goal? Take the fight to our enemies on their home turf, so they can’t hit us as hard in our own back yard.
|“The U.S. is still perceived as a safer destination, in part because we are much farther removed geographically from some of the world’s worst hotspots.”|
As a result, I wouldn’t be surprised if defense stocks continue to outperform in today’s uncertain and dangerous world. I first wrote about that trend last April.
Anyway, those are some of my thoughts at this difficult time. I’d like to hear yours as well. What are you doing to keep you and your family safe in this uncertain world? What impacts do you think this attack, and other recent terrorist strikes in Europe, will have over the longer-term? Can we take steps as a country – or as individual Americans — to increase our nation’s safety? Share your comments in the discussion section below.
Meanwhile, many of you weighed in on NIRP, ZIRP and the worldwide yield-chasing frenzy over the weekend.
Reader Donald L. highlighted the distortions that ultra-low/negative interest rates are causing, saying: “Central banks, in collusion with the governments of the countries in which they are located, have so distorted normal market operations that yields bear little or no relation to risk or return. They have forcibly turned the laws of economics upside down and there will be a price to be paid. Unfortunately, it is we, the public, who will pay the price.”
Reader Chuck B. said low rates were a symptom of a weak economic outlook, posing a serious challenge for policymakers. His comments: “This week, we will have the Fed’s decision on rates for June. Since Janet Yellen has been talking up a rate hike, any failure to do one might be taken as a rather negative sign. It would indicate the economy is not so good after all, which we all know is actually true.
“A poor June hiring figure, and failure to hike in July, would really confirm that. The May drop in new hires could be a sign that new college grads are not getting early bids from employers, and may need to fall back on their moms and/or dads as their tuition loans begin to come due.”
Reader John H. said he thinks low rates will have a positive influence on growth: “Bill Gross and others who claim it’s ‘bad for the economy’ are not correct. Low costs of debt (or borrowing) are contributing to reduce the cost of capital bar needed for investment projects to go forward. The cheaper it is to finance growth, the more growth there will be.
“It is a tremendous boom to the borrowers of money who invest in growth to have money made available to them so inexpensively. And when other conditions are also met (aka – profitably of projects in the light of other circumstances) cheap borrowing is the ideal environment for a strong economy.”
But Reader Billy was much more pessimistic on the outlook: “We are seeing in the bond market yet another indication that a major change in direction is coming for the capital markets, especially equities. It will most likely be worse than the 2007-2009 Great Recession, which was triggered by the U.S. subprime mortgage and real estate crisis.
“This crisis has so many powerful, global triggers: China stock/real estate, sovereign and junk debt, derivatives, margin debt, deflation, negative interest rates and let’s not forget the major canary – that being demographics.”
The solution, at least according to Reader Gordon? Buy gold! His comments:
“With all the negative yields in play and growing, I think it is only a matter of time till pension and insurance funds take a serious look at gold to protect their clients. Negative returns do nothing to cover their clients’ projected retirement numbers/needs and I think negative interest rates are here to stay.”
Thanks for sharing your thoughts on this very important topic. As I said on Friday, NIRP/ZIRP is introducing all kinds of distortions into the markets and the global economy – and I don’t see how this ends well. So buying gold, investing in “Safe Yielders,” adding downside stock market hedges, and avoiding high-risk junk bonds all seem like sound strategies to me.
Any other thoughts you want to share? Then be sure to do so in the comment section below.
Will U.K. voters decide to exit the European Union? A poll on Friday showed a much higher likelihood of that happening, helping to tank the stock market and British pound. But other polls suggest the “Remain” and “Leave” camps are running neck and neck. The referendum will take place on June 23.
Troubled blood-testing firm Theranos has lost its largest partner, Walgreens Boots Alliance (WBA). The drugstore chain terminated its deal with Theranos amid concerns about the company’s testing protocols and underlying technology. Regulators are considering sanctioning Theranos for various lab failures.
Microsoft (MSFT) launched a $26.2 billion takeover for the employment-social media company LinkedIn (LNKD). The offer of $196-per-share represented a hefty premium to LinkedIn’s close of around $131 on Friday, and it’s one of Microsoft’s biggest deals ever.
So what do you think about the British vote: Will the U.K. pull out of the EU? Should it? How about the latest struggles at Theranos … will the once high-flying tech “unicorn” be able to dig itself out of this regulatory hole? Any thoughts on Microsoft’s M&A gambit? Hit up the comment section and share your thoughts.
Until next time,