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INTRO Here's my semi-annual exercise to see if I remember why I own the stocks I own, and so I can check back and see if their stories have changed. I include the economy and markets to check my perception of the bigger picture. I post in case it helps others too.

Economy & Markets
Despite short term fluctuations, the market indicies continue to climb. GDP may be sluggish. Unemployment is down. Wages are beginning to rise, barely. The housing market is recovering, though shifting to more of a renter's market than a buyer's market. Personal and federal debt remain uncomfortably high; and student debt may be limiting growth in housing, consumer goods, and ironically, higher education beyond Bachelors degrees. In general, for now, the situation in the US is favorable. My greatest concerns are from a possible private equity bubble, instabilities from computerized trading, and vulnerabilities in the EU and China. The recent oil price drop favored personal finance, but countries like Russia, Venezuela, and other oil producers are having to take drastic actions to stabilize their finances. This may have the consequence of greater global instability but greater strength for the US Dollar as a safe haven. Deflation is already happening in limited markets, which may be temporary, but could accelerate if one of the vulnerabilities happen in such a way to amplify the effect.

We're in much better shape than we were, but there are large vulnerabilities that recommend caution.

(I've also collected links to the other discussion boards and my other stocks over on my blog
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