Drum roll please. My official people of the year are… the CEOs, CFOs and all of those hardworking Americans who have found a way to help their respective corporations’ stock valuations rise in 2013.
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Unfortunately, there seems to be an absurd game of telephone going around this country that stock prices have risen due to the government's quantitative easing program, or the "printing of money."
I have been saying, and I continue to say, that this program is doing very little to help stock prices rise. Claiming it does, and repeating it, deflects from the real heroes of 2013 and my people of the year. In spite of the heavy dose of regulations, increased taxes, uncertainty from proposed new regulations and the ever-heavy overhang from ObamaCare, the leadership at most U.S. corporations has been able to navigate these hurdles, most of which have come from an anti-business administration in Washington.
Earnings are up between 10-13% this year over last year, despite slow GDP growth both in the United States and the rest of the world.
Additionally, there is a completely fallacious story going around that stocks will cease to rise when "money printing" ends. Wow. That is a verbal slap in the face of all of those sitting around the board rooms, senior management and all those who report up.
Let me be very clear: The value of stocks is now and will always be based on earnings, projected earnings and interest rates. To say that stocks have moved higher for any other reason, especially due to money printing, is a giant cop out and proof that you need to go back and study up on how the stock market works.
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Why do I call these business leaders and hardworking Americans heroes? In spite of all the negative economic headwinds, very few indicators are where they should be in what is the weakest recovery in our country's history. The rise in corporate earnings, which is the catalyst for increases in stock prices, is the only positive economic news that has unfolded in this country in 2013.
The increase in stock prices as a result of corporations’ masterful work in 2013 has added hundreds of billions of dollars into the balance sheet of all of us in this country. This will continue to trickle down into the economy. Hopefully, we will start to see the positive impact throughout all economic statistics. If you are feeling a little better financially today than you did 12 months ago, then you owe it to those hard-working soldiers of business that have done more this year to help improve their corporate balance sheets.
During this holiday season, be thankful for many things, but remember to be thankful for living in a country where capitalism reigns. The credit belongs to all those people who wake up every day and go out to make the economy work. It doesn't belong to a printing press.