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J. P. Morgan’s Legacy under Attack

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“You can’t pick cherries with your back to the tree.” — J. P. Morgan

I’ve always been a big fan of J. P. Morgan, the country’s largest investment bank, since it was established by the grand old man.

Dr. Mark Skousen Visits the Morgan Library.

Dr. Mark Skousen Visits the Morgan Library.

When visitors come to New York, I often take them down to 23 Wall Street and point out the vantage point J. P. Morgan (1837-1913) enjoyed as king of Wall Street finance back in the late 19th and early 20th century. And I then take them to the Morgan Library in midtown. Morgan was attacked as a robber baron, but he saved the Treasury twice in the 1890s when they were running out of gold, financed the first billion-dollar company (US Steel), and kept the United States from suffering another depression by solving the Panic of 1907. The Federal Reserve was created in 1913 because J. P. Morgan died in March, 1913, and without a private central banker, there was nobody around to work his magic. (His son, Jack, was no match for his father.)

Now 100 years later, J. P. Morgan may be in his grave but he’s still coming under attack. The New York Times’ reporters have been doing exposes on J. P. Morgan brokers, and now the Obama administration is going after them. Even though the federal government requested that J. P. Morgan bail out Bear Stearns and Washington Mutual, the U.S. Justice Department went after the investment bank and hit it with a $13 billion settlement for bad mortgage loans during the financial crisis of 2008.

As the Wall Street Journal concluded, “The only thing clear from this settlement is there will be no willing buyers [of bad assets] during the next crisis.”

The saddest consequence is that $13 billion now is being transferred from the productive private sector to the unproductive public sector.

You Blew It! ObamaCare: Success or Failure?

“If you like your health care plan, you can keep your health care plan.”
— President Barack Obama

Clearly, President Obama gets the dubious “You Blew It” award this week for promising more than the government could deliver when it comes to healthcare. The Affordable Health Care Act is rapidly becoming “unaffordable.”

At the New Orleans conference last week, Wayne Allyn Root, “the capitalist evangelist,” stole the show by announcing that ObamaCare is a “fantastic success” because it is “a brilliant, cynical and purposeful attempt to damage the U.S. economy, kill jobs and bring down capitalism.”

I’m not as cynical. Obama clearly wants ObamaCare to succeed as his signature legislation. The problem is that (a) young people still aren’t signing up for medical insurance, (b) millions are losing their current plans and (c) insurance costs are rising.

The silver lining is that perhaps Americans will realize that they can no longer depend on the medical profession or the hospitals to give them first class medical treatment and they will work harder to live healthier lives.

Every July at FreedomFest, John Mackey (co-CEO, Whole Foods Market) and other health-care experts hold sessions to standing-room-only crowds about living well by eating well and exercising. Mackey will be returning next year to give a talk on “The Whole Foods Diet: How to Live to be 100 Without Getting Cancer, Heart Disease, Diabetes, and Stroke.” Don’t miss it. For more information, go to www.freedomfest.com. Dates are July 9-12, 2014, at Planet Hollywood, Las Vegas.

In case you missed it, I encourage you to read my e-letter column from last week about the outlook for gold gleaned from experts at the New Orleans Conference. I also invite you to comment about my column in the space provided below.

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About Mark Skousen

Mark Skousen, Ph. D., is the editor of the monthly investment newsletter Forecasts & Strategies, as well as three weekly trading services—High-Income Alert, Five Star Trader, and Fast Money Alert. He is also a professional economist, investment expert, university professor, and author of more than 25 books. He earned his Ph. D. in monetary economics at George Washington University in 1977. He has taught economics and finance at Columbia Business School, Columbia University, Grantham University, Barnard College, Mercy College, Rollins College, and is a Presidential Fellow at Chapman University. He also has been a consultant to IBM, Hutchinson Technology, and other Fortune 500 companies. For more information about Mark’s services, go to http://www.markskousen.com/

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