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How To Invest in Stocks

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If you haven’t Invested in Stocks before, Here is what you need to know

Investing in the stock market can see, scary and confusing. There are so many choices…where do you begin? Well, it’s really not that different from learning how to swim.

Jumping into a big pool, river or ocean can seem scary. But if you simply dive in and begin to learn, you’ll be on your own in no time.

As the world’s greatest investor Warren Buffett explains, it’s not rocket science…

As you can see, Mr. Buffett doesn’t make a big deal out of things that aren’t. He doesn’t have access to special and secret information. He has access to the same information as you do. He simply approaches it in a calm analytic manner.

But just so we’re clear, if Mr. Buffett were here and we asked him to explain how to invest in stocks he would tell you some version of the following:

Buying a stock is buying a piece of a publically trading company. Yes, the minute you buy one single share of a given stock you are an owner of that company. Naturally, as you acquire more shares, you acquire a larger share of equity. In plain English, this just means that you own more of the company in question.
Each stock you buy entitles you to that proportional part of that company’s earnings and assets.

There are two types of stock, common stock and preferred stock.
Common stock ownership allows you shareholders voting rights but no guarantee of a dividend payment. A dividend is a small percentage of the stock price which is paid back to the stockholder on a pre-determined basis.

Common Stock - how to invest your money
It’s basically the company’s way of saying, “Thank you for investing in our company. Here’s a little something to show you we appreciate your business and care about you making money while we are.”

Preferred stock ownership does not give you any voting rights, but (in most cases) guarantees you a dividend payment.

Once upon a time, stockholders would receive a paper stock certificate which had the number of shares they owned written on it. This is called a security, it’s just another word people use in place of “stock” or “share” so don’t get confused. The differences are not big enough to worry about.

What is Preferred stock - 1900's certificate-How to invest your money

What is Preferred stock – 1900’s certificate-How to invest your money

Today, stock or share ownership is recorded electronically and the record is held with your brokerage firm. Of course, the law ensures that you’re allowed to log into your account and check your ownership status. It’s no different than an electronic account at your bank and is typically as simple as checking email.

 

Now, be careful! Investing in stocks is not as simple as buy, sell, get rich!

 

Reality doesn’t work like that. Anybody telling you otherwise has some nice oceanfront land to sell you…in Nebraska.

You must treat investing in stocks like you would your job. Be serious, learn as much as you can and follow what the winners do.

Before you go out and buy a stock for the first time, you have to master the basics. This won’t make you Warren Buffett, but it will help you feel comfortable and more likely to succeed.
With that said, let’s go through the basics of getting started.

[CONTINUED How to Invest is Stocks, The 4 Pillars of Trading]

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Social Media Stocks Slip As Trump Issues Executive Order

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Social Media Stocks Slip As Trump Issues Executive Order

Social media stocks slipped yesterday after President Trump signed an executive order granting the government broader authority to crack down on social media companies. Twitter fell 4.45%, Facebook dipped 1.61% and Google’s parent company Alphabet dropped 0.08%. Twitter took the biggest hit because Trump said if the company doesn’t operate honorably, he hinted he would consider shutting the company down.

Trump says social media companies have gained “unchecked power” and have taken on the roles of editors and publishers of the content on their websites. His executive order would remove their “liability shield” if they engage in censorship.

What is Section 230?

Section 230 allows tech companies to moderate user-generated content on their site without becoming legally liable for it as a publisher typically would.

The law allows companies to engage in “good Samaritan” moderation of “objectionable” material. This, then, comes without the companies receiving a publisher or speaker treatment. Section 230 allows platforms like Twitter, Facebook and Google’s YouTube to take down terrorist content. It also allows them to track and take down harassing messages while still enjoying other legal protections.

What the law doesn’t allow, and what Trump says the platforms are doing, pertains to selectively moderating what messages users see to silence conservative voices.

“They’re doing things incorrectly, they have points of view,” Trump said at the White House. “My executive order calls for new regulations under Section 230 of the Communications Decency Act to make it that social media companies that engage in censoring or any political conduct will not be able to keep their liability shield. That’s a big deal,” he also stated.

Trump’s Order

Trump said the order would also prevent taxpayer dollars from going to any company that engages in what Trump referred to as deceptiveness. This is in addition to limiting these protections for companies that acted with bias.

Trump’s executive order comes just days after Twitter added a fact-checking feature. The social media site added the new feature alongside two of the President’s tweets about mail-in ballots and fraud. After Twitter added the fact-checking features, Trump then accused the company of engaging in “political activism.”

He also tweeted, “So ridiculous to see Twitter trying to make the case that Mail-In Ballots are not subject to FRAUD. How stupid, there are examples, & cases, all over the place. Our election process will become badly tainted & a laughingstock all over the World. Tell that to your hater @yoyoel.”

“Big Tech is doing everything in their very considerable power to CENSOR in advance of the 2020 Election,” the president also said Wednesday night — on Twitter. “If that happens, we no longer have our freedom. I will never let it happen! They tried hard in 2016, and lost. Now they are going absolutely CRAZY. Stay Tuned!!!” he then added.

Reactions

Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg said that his company is taking a different approach to moderating content on his social media platform.

“I just believe strongly that Facebook shouldn’t be the arbiter of truth of everything that people say online. Private companies probably shouldn’t be, especially these platform companies, shouldn’t be in the position of doing that.”

The interest in updating Section 230 to remove the liability shield for publishers isn’t just a goal for Republicans. It actually has bipartisan support.

This past January, Democratic nominee Joe Biden proposed revoking Section 230 completely. “The idea that it’s a tech company is that Section 230 should be revoked, immediately should be revoked, number one. For Zuckerberg and other platforms. It should be revoked because it is not merely an internet company. It is propagating falsehoods they know to be false.” Biden also never responded to follow-up questions about this statement.

Even former Democratic candidate also Bernie Sanders supported the idea, adding, “Tech giants and online platforms should not be shielded from responsibility when they knowingly allow content on their platforms that promotes and facilitates violence.”

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Ackman’s Hot Streak Continues, Dumps Berkshire, Says ‘We Can Be More Nimble’

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Ackman’s Hot Streak Continues, Dumps Berkshire, Says ‘We Can Be More Nimble’

Bill Ackman’s hot streak continues. This comes after he announced that his Pershing Square hedge fund has returned an average of 25% this year. It also trounces the average hedge fund return of -7%. Additionally, this reveals that it sold its $1 billion stake in Warren Buffett’s Berkshire Hathaway. The fund first invested in Berkshire less than a year ago and only weeks took a larger stake in the conglomerate.

Completely exiting the Berkshire position surprised many on Wall Street, as Ackman has long admired Buffett as a mentor. He recently said that Buffett had built Berkshire “to withstand a global economic shock like this one.”

It appears that Ackman, like many, may have felt frustrated by the lack of activity from Berkshire during the recent market downswing. Berkshire’s cash balance has ballooned to $137 billion. Many, including Ackman, had likely expected a portion of that cash to be used to scoop up bargains during the late-February selloff. The said selloff took markets down nearly 30%.

Instead, Berkshire stood pat, and that appears to have been enough for Ackman to pull the plug on his investment. While discussing the exit, Ackman said that due to Pershing’s smaller size compared to Berkshire, “we can be much more nimble… and so our view was generally we should take advantage of that nimbleness, preserve some extra liquidity in the event that prices get more attractive again.”

Pershing Square’s success over the last two years had thrust Ackman back into the spotlight. This, perhaps, turned the chapter on a period where he became more famous for his misses than his home runs.

He was invested in Valeant Pharmaceuticals as it collapsed. He also famously squabbled on live TV with fellow billionaire Carl Icahn over Herbalife. Then, he gave a nearly 3-hour-long presentation explaining why he thought the company runs as a pyramid scheme. He finally exited his $1 billion short position at a loss.

Ackman’s current hot streak started last year, when Pershing Square returned 58.1%. This is its best annual return since the hedge fund was founded in 2004. After years of letting others make the firm’s investment decisions, Ackman took back the reins in 2018 with a back-to-basics strategy he learned from Buffett.

He returned the fund to a strategy that invests in simple, predictable, cash flow positive companies. He said, “It’s very hard to lose money by buying great businesses if you pay a fair price. For a while there, we forgot that our main job was to make money, so we woke up, and now we’re back in the money making business.”

Making money is exactly what Ackman did earlier this year. He did so with “the single best trade of all-time,” as what many calls it. He correctly predicted that the coronavirus would wreak havoc on our economy. Because of this, Ackman made a $27 million bet that netted his firm a $2.6 billion profit in less than two months as the markets crashed.

Now, his war chest is full again. It appears that Ackman is ready to buy should asset prices come down again.

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Biden Is Latest Dem to Support Ridiculous Free Housing Proposal

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Biden Is Latest Dem to Support Ridiculous Free Housing Proposal

Presidential candidate Joe Biden is the latest Democrat to throw their support behind the ridiculous idea that housing should be free

During an appearance yesterday, Biden said he agrees with “forgiving” both mortgage and rent payments. He says this as the country struggles with the coronavirus pandemic and 38 million Americans are without a job.

“There should be rent forgiveness and there should be mortgage forgiveness now in the middle of this crisis. Not paid later, forgiveness. It’s critically important to people who are in the lower-income strata.” said Biden

Tara Raghuveer, housing campaign director at People’s Action, a political network devoted to grassroots organizing, aired her opinion. She said, “The tenant is the most vulnerable person in the economy right now.”

She added, “The alternative to not canceling the rent is complete bottoming out of the market. And tens of millions of people literally never financially recovering from this moment.”

Calls for Housing Relief

Biden’s call for rent and mortgage relief echoes efforts by Minnesota Rep. Ilhan Omar. Omar introduced legislation that would bar landlords and lenders from collecting monthly payments. It would also impose late fees “through the duration of the pandemic.”

Under Omar’s plan, renters and mortgage borrowers who skip payments wouldn’t need to pay back anything once the rent and mortgage forgiveness policy ended. And any lender or landlord who violated the plan would face penalties.

Correctly, housing industry experts point out that allowing renters to skip payments also needs to consider the consequences of the landlords not being able to pay their own mortgages on the property.

“If multifamily landlords, particularly the small mom and pop landlords who own just maybe one to four units can’t make their mortgage payments and can’t stay in business, those are affordable units that are going to be lost to the private market,” said Flora Arabo, the national senior director of state and local policy at Enterprise Community Partners.

“Rent forgiveness without rental subsidies could be pretty catastrophic for tenants,” Arabo said.

Omar’s plan addresses these concerns, supporters say. It does so because it creates a fund for landlords and lenders so that they could recoup any losses.

Not surprisingly, Raghuveer’s organization, People’s Action, worked with Omar in drafting the bill. The organization threw in more stipulations for landlords to collect those funds. These include providing information on their revenues, refraining from discrimination based on the source of income, and other tenant protections.

Biden’s Impact

Biden’s support for the rent and mortgage forgiveness plans doesn’t really mean much. However, the biggest problem with these free housing proposals is that they demonize landlords. They let the tenants immediately skip payments, but force the landlords to deal with bureaucracy and red tape to receive relief funds.

According to the Census Bureau, individual investors own nearly 75% of our nation’s rental units, not massive corporations. Those mom and pop landlords likely aren’t any more sophisticated than their tenants. They would also find themselves in the same dire financial situation should they lose the ability to collect rent.

Bob Pinnegar, president and CEO of the National Apartment Association, said in a recent interview, “Rent cancellation proposals do not adequately address the problem and fail to recognize that many property owners are in the same dire situation as their residents — substantial loss of income amid ongoing financial obligations.”

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