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The Independent Investor: Economic Inequality Becomes Campaign Issue
By Bill Schmick,
06:32PM / Thursday, February 13, 2020
As Bernie Sanders takes the lead in the Democratic primary campaign, investors are beginning to take his socialist leanings to heart. But dire warnings from the opposition and Wall Street seem to have little impact. A look at the present income inequality in America goes a long way in explaining why.   Over the years, I have written a number of articles on the growing threat of income inequality and its damage to "the Great Center" — the American middle class. According to a new study by the respected Pew Research organization, over the past 50 years, the highest earning 20 percent of U.S. households have garnered a steadily increasing share of America's

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The Independent Investor: ESG and the World of Investment
By Bill Schmick,
04:24PM / Thursday, January 30, 2020
Over the last few years, investments that focus on environmental, social, and governance issues, or ESG, have been confused with socially responsible investing or SRI. There is a big difference between the two investment styles.   The simplest way to understand the differences between the two is the profit motive. ESg investments are focused on making money as a primary objective. They do so by identifying specific risks or opportunities now and in the future and investing accordingly. SRI investors, on the other hand, are willing to forego profits in companies that do not meet their ethical standards. They value ethics more than profits in the investment

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The Independent Investor: Intellectual Property Has Not Always Been So Important
By Bill Schmick,
04:33PM / Thursday, January 23, 2020
America's intellectual property (IP) is worth more than $6.6 trillion and employs 45 million Americans and hundreds of millions more worldwide. It is estimated that IP-intensive industries account for one-third of the country's total Gross Domestic Product and 52 percent of U.S. merchandise exports. It is why we, as a country, are fighting so hard to protect these rights today.   The figures above come from the U.S. Chamber of Commerce. If anything, they understate the value of IP to all of us. So what, exactly is IP? Generally, it is any product of the human intellect that the law protects from unauthorized use by others. Inventions, literary and artistic works,

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The Independent Investor: Can We Afford 4 More Years of Trade Wars?
By Bill Schmick,
08:02PM / Thursday, January 16, 2020
The Phase One trade deal with China was signed with a great deal of pomp and circumstance this week. While happy that trade tensions on both sides have been reduced, the vast majority of Wall Street players saw the deal as a win for China.   After almost three years of threats, bluster and on-again-off-again tariffs, we are right back where we were before Donald Trump was elected. Yes, China has agreed to purchase an additional $200 billion in U.S. goods over the next two years, but the trade deficit was always the wrong metric when comparing our overall trade with China.   Trade imbalances are caused by capital flows. Don't take my word for it, just ask any

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The Independent Investor: China's role in Iran
By Bill Schmick,
04:40PM / Thursday, January 09, 2020
The de-escalation of the potential conflict between Iran and the United States sent markets higher this week. It could have turned out much differently. The question is why did the situation  defused so rapidly, and who really is responsible for that outcome? I'm thinking it was China.   Taking out the number two guy in Iran, Maj. Gen. Qassem Soleimani, in a U.S. drone attack last week was a highly provocative move. The world expected push-back from Iran and feared a tit-for-tat escalation on both sides. That didn't happen. Sure, the Iranians did lob a dozen-plus missiles at two military bases across their border into Iraq, but relatively little damage resulted

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