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OPINION

Now the Barbarians Are at the Gate

The opinions expressed by columnists are their own and do not necessarily represent the views of Townhall.com.
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This will be another news-driven week where outside influences have a much greater impact on the stock market than economic data and corporate news.

The biggest news will come from Greece, not just the saga that will not go away, but the story of the Greek economy and notions that socialism being a salvation has run aground. It is a wreck in every sense of the word. Now, the nation must look beyond Deimos and avoid Phobos (the gods of fear and terror) and decide if this is the economy war they seek or bow to the Troika’s demands for more authentic austerity.

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Greek bank-deposits have been halved and reportedly, €1 billion in pre-order withdraws greeted banks on Monday.

Greece has pitched a last second deal…let’s hope they’re serious this time.

Health Care Hiccup

Then there’s the pending Supreme Court decision on Obamacare which could send Washington and even the stock market into a tailspin. It certainly has the political world upside down. There are so many ironies to note, but none more interesting than the fact Obamacare was doomed to failure. In some ways, a legal rebuke towards part of the law might be right nudge to get it repealed or replaced the right way. However, there are no plans!

The White House says there’s no Plan B.

The GOP is cobbling together something akin to the very subsidies that could be ruled against.

Here are the numbers from U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS):

  • 34 states are part of the federal marketplace
  • 10.2 million Americans signed up for Obamacare
  • 6.4 million Receive subsides
  • $272 month is average subsidy

The big problem is even with subsides, the scheme is too expensive for dissuading millions from ever signing on and for those that have enrolled, they’re curtailing medical treatments in part to expensive deductibles. Next year, when all the gimmicks have run their course, premiums are set to make dramatic increases across the nation.

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King v. Burwell is going to make history. It will signal how far government can go to make up the rules as they go along, selling a massive project through bait and switch practices (while you won’t lose your doctor, no one was told about massive subsides). The highest court in the land is willing to look away because it rules on what the sale pitch should have been.

However, the irony is that now that the plan is in place and 34 states are involved, but taking the wheels off while it’s still moving would be the mother of all train wrecks. Moreover, the Congressional Budget Office (CBO) has scored repeal; $137 billion would impact on the economy over a period of years.

This will be the biggest news of the week/year/decade. I’m not sure how to predict the market’s reaction.

Big Deal in Oil Patch

Apparently Williams Companies, Inc. (WMB) received an unsolicited takeover offer over the weekend from Energy Transfer Equity (ETE) for $48.0 billion or $64 per share. The stock closed Friday with a $36.0 billion market cap and share price of $48 dollars per share. The oil and gas pipeline company has tentacles everywhere and an especially strong presence in Texas through many major investments:

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  • $2.0 billion Barnett
  • $0.7 billion Mid-Continent
  • $1.4 billion Haynesville
  • $0.4 billion Permian
  • $1.4 billion Eagle Ford

The rebound in crude hasn’t been matched by the stocks in the sector; this may spark similar deals in various niches.


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