With inflation lurking, markets tanking, the world imploding and markets waiting nervously for Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke to put his foot in his mouth in front of the Senate today, I will make my way to the news about US Airways ( LCC) putting advertisements on its barf bags. (Editor's note: To access some of these stories, registration or a subscription may be required. Please check the individual links for the site's policy.)But while on the subject of nausea, let's talk about that Bernanke dude. Like an old married couple talking over each other, Bernanke and the financial markets can't seem to get in sync. The major problem, of course, is that Bernanke and the markets only recently got married, which means that they should still be in the throes of a honeymoon period. Can Bernanke start to fix things today? And will the markets give him the benefit of the doubt? One problem, The Washington Post points out this morning in " Misreading His Lips," is that Bernanke is tied in a nasty knot. He must appear tough on inflation, yet flexible enough to respond to an economy that is not easy to peg. One economist points out that Bernanke was a teacher coming into this new gig, which means he will adjust to what he students need to know and when (like, uh, maybe not making off-the-cuff remarks to CNBC's Maria Bartiromo at Washington dinners). That same economist points out what is increasingly terrifying me about Bernanke: He has little experience in markets. That's a little like signing a relief pitcher who has no experience in baseball. Anyhow, the larger hope that the article touches upon is that for all of the public's complaints about the convoluted way Alan Greenspan spoke, the markets came to understand his lingo perfectly. And with Bernanke, there has been a lot of confusion on how he talks about the long and short term. Specifically, when he has spoken about how the Fed might "pause" in raising rates "at some point in the future," he is not, like Greenspan, giving a gift-wrapped hint about the short term. He is talking, instead, about avoiding any robotic course of action in an economy that seems to be changing by the day. As you listen to him today, keep that in mind. And while we are on the subject of inflation, let's stick with The Washington Post for a good initial look at the possible effects of inflation -- or the fear of inflation -- in China, where red-hot growth makes it something to think about.
And fear.Let's shift now from fear to opportunity. Today, Wal-Mart ( WMT) opens a store that will be key to its future. The company, which has parlayed the opportunities in rural America to their limits, has set its sights on cities. It will open a slightly tweaked 180,000-square-foot store in White Plains, N.Y., a rising suburban-city just north of Manhattan. The store has an emphasis on fashion and jewelry, says Women's Wear Daily. Target ( TGT) has a store across the street. Let the battle for the urban discount store customer begin! In every overwrought public panic, The Business Press Maven looks for investment opportunities. How I missed this one is beyond me. But with politicians facing a tough election climate and harrumphing about immigration enforcement, and with too many members of the general public blaming immigrants for their ills instead of crediting them for contributing to the creativity and chance-taking that stands as the base strength of the American economy, immigrants are expected to be detained in increased numbers. A pair of private prison operators, Corrections Corporation of America ( CXW) and the Geo Group ( GGI), have already seen their stock prices rise significantly since President Bush proposed earlier this year to increase spending on immigrant detention. The private prison companies are angling for a growing piece of this business. And with more public zaniness on the issue, there may be more opportunity. Read about it in today's New York Times. Speaking of overwrought panic, the wires are carrying news that U.K. gambling stocks are up on talk that BETonSPORTS, the online gambling concern whose CEO was detained during a flight layover in Texas by American authorities who were either moralistic about gambling or jealous of the tax revenue, has reached a deal with the feds to stay in business.
Please note that due to factors including low market capitalization and/or insufficient public float, we consider MarineMax and West Marine to be small-cap stocks. You should be aware that such stocks are subject to more risk than stocks of larger companies, including greater volatility, lower liquidity and less publicly available information, and that postings such as this one can have an effect on their stock prices.