This is the first of a two-part Op-Ed piece by Matt Horween, CPA, FSO (retired). To read the second part, please click here: Time to Remove U.S. Troops From South Korea.
If you believe that Russia, China, Al-Qaida, North Korea and Iran might not be our friends then this monograph will interest you. If you believe that we can all get along together and that these countries are our friends and mean us no harm then do not waste your time reading it.
In part one I am going to start with a description of what we have done since WW II ended and a discussion of why we should stop supporting the rest of the world and start spending our money here at home in the USA. In part, two I will make a case for not basing any troops in South Korea and why we should base all the troops there in the United States and not increase the Army by 22,000 troops for the war in Afghanistan.
Why should this monograph appear on a financial news website? It is helpful to know if you are investing in companies that are located in countries with stagnant or no growth versus countries with accelerating growth and solid financial systems and foreign reserves and good fiscal policies.This is an example of what we are getting for protecting South Korea, which is a rich country. Korean automakers sold 800,000 cars in the United States in 2005, as compared to 4,251 U.S. cars sold in the Korean market last year. The value of Korean auto exports to the United States in each of the last two years was over $10 billion. Korea had trade surpluses with the United States of $9.4 billion, $14.1 billion, and $10.7 billion in 2003, 2004, and 2005 respectively. I do not think the numbers got much better since 2005. What do we get for protecting Korea from an attack from North Korea? President Obama promised us during the campaign that he would work on ending the imbalances that have arisen under our free trade agreements. So far, we have not heard much about forcing Korea to allow us to sell vehicles there. Since the end of World War II, we have been through so much. The Korean War, the Cold War, Vietnam, Afghanistan War, Gulf War I and Gulf War II. In addition, we have been involved in innumerable other covert and overt conflicts. We need a rest. We need to look inward for a while. We need to assimilate all of the new immigrants and we need to deal with our minority citizens who lag way behind the rest of the country economically. If we do not start to look inward and take care of our own people, we will see our educational system and our infrastructure continue to deteriorate while we play the role of Super Power on credit. How will we raise the money to continue our Super Power ways? What should we invest in to protect ourselves in the medium to long term? I think we will expand our foreign military operations and our Foreign Aid in the near term, and we will have to raise taxes and cut back on Social Security and continue to borrow vast amounts of money as long as our so-called friends will lend it to us. I think that it is most prudent to invest in the SPDRGold (GLD) ETF at a time like this and to invest in international oil companies like BP (BP), Total (TOT), Petrobras (PZE). It would be a mistake to invest in our domestic oil companies because Cap and Trade will hamper them and the USG will raise their taxes going forward. Most foreign mineral companies like BHP (BHP) and Rio Tinto (RTP) will be good over time. A China, Indian or Brazilian ETF or closed end fund will be a good investment as will European and Brazilian utility companies. GlaxoSmithKine (GSK), Nestle (NSRGY), Diageo (DEO) and other European companies that pay a reasonable dividend are also good hedges against a chronically falling dollar. Infrastructure and oil service firms like Halliburton (HAL) and Transocean (RIG) that have headquarters outside the USA (Halliburton now has dual headquarters in Dubai and Houston) are good picks since they will be able to avoid much of the higher U.S. taxes that will be coming. If you want to buy U.Ss companies, then think about the top international brands that will not need much financing in the near- and mid-term that will earn a lot of foreign currency. Companies like McDonald's (MCD), Coca-Cola (KO) , Intel (INTC), IBM (IBM), Deere (DE), Caterpillar (CAT) , Clorox (CLX) , Cisco (CSCO), Procter & Gamble (PG) and Dow Chemical (DOW). Small and medium sized U.S. companies that are not export oriented should be avoided since they will have difficult time when interest rates rise. Not to mention the fact that the generally weak U.S. economy will persist as long as we continue to spend so much of our budget overseas and not in the USA for the USA. The USA has starved its domestic economy of desperately needed infrastructure, starting with the Vietnam War and continuing up until today. If you want to see majestic new airports go to China, do not go to Philadelphia. If you want to drive on brand new super highways, do not go to I-76 in Pennsylvania but again go to China. If you want to see, new sewer and water plants go to China.
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