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Featured Advisor

Kim Butler

Partners for Prosperity, Inc.

City:Mt. Enterprise

State: TX

I have 20+ years of handling alternative investments in cash, growth and income for clients nationwide.  I strive to help my clients with all things financial in every way possible over the phone and the web.  I own an alpaca farm which I enjoy working during my downtime.  I also enjoy gardening, writing and reading books.  I also train other advisors on Prosperity Economics.

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News Analysis for March 23, 2011

Internet online giant Amazon will begin to sell apps on its electronic retail site. Until Amazon, there was no aggregator for apps for Android devices on the scale of the Apple iTunes store. Amazon’s broad reach in online commerce will make it much easier to find, buy and download Android-compatible apps, according to the Financial Times and msnbc.com. Interestingly, Amazon is being challenged in court by Apple for using the name AppStore on which Apple claims ownership.

The market is expected to have a lower opening today. Reuters attributes this trend to the Japanese crisis as well as the increasing unrest in the Middle East. It is yet unclear what effect the debt crisis in Europe will have on the market.

Eleven days after an earthquake and tsunami hit Japan, the country is still experiencing rolling black outs and other power cuts. Compromised infrastructure is contributing to the shortage of parts, with global electronics and auto companies the hardest hit. Reuters reports that firms are cutting output and that many are making plans to switch parts suppliers.

The Federal Reserve made a huge payment back to the U.S. government on Tuesday, a record $79.3 billion. Taxpayers reaped a substantial return on the Fed’s investment in mortgage-backed securities during the financial crisis. Recall that the Fed was severely criticized for buying these “so-called” low quality assets to prop up the banking sector with claims that taxpayers would never be paid back. The Associated Press notes that 2010 profits were 53% more than profits paid back in 2009.

As the continued “no fly zone” order over Libya is enforced, internal conflict among the allied forces is apparent. The balance of power among the NATO countries is proving to be a battle of its own according to a Wall Street Journal article. Although France is involved with the current operation, it is carefully choosing how much it participates in the embargo. France’s is desperately trying to mend relationships in the Arab world, while still fulfilling its obligation as a NATO force. The U.S. has made it clear that it will not support a ground campaign in the Libya and would like to see more participation from other NATO countries.

Business social media website LinkedIn passed 100 million users this week according to USA Today reports. The company filed to go public earlier this year and has an estimated valuation of near $3 billion. LinkedIn currently averages over 5.5 billion page views each month with 56% of its users coming from outside the U.S. The country with the fastest LinkedIn growth rate is Brazil with a 428% year over year increase.

From Russia with love. With oil supplies from Libya interrupted for an indeterminate period and inadequate power sources stymying Japan’s rebuilding process, Russia has stepped in to supply energy where needed. Libya had provided over 2% of Europe’s gas needs prior to the conflict there. The Associated Press reports that Russia’s state-owned Gasprom will supply more gas to Europe as well as providing gas to Japanese utilities looking to replace power generating capacity lost in the wake of the earthquake and tsunami there.

The natural and nuclear disasters in Japan are having a negative effect on air travel throughout the Pacific and Asia, according to the Financial Times. Japan is a major hub for connecting flights to other parts of Asia for both business and leisure travelers. Delta Air Lines expects the slowdown in air travel to substantially reduce its profits for 2011. Delta has grown its business in Japan and has a larger presence there than American or United. Interestingly, US Airways has reported a 20% drop in its air passenger traffic due to worries about the supply chains in that part of the world.

Portugal’s government is on the verge of collapse. Prime Minister Jose Socrates has threatened resignation if the parliament rejects austerity plans to save the failing economy. All of this comes before the day of the European Summit. If things do not change, PM Socrates is convinced Portugal will have to have an international bailout similar to Ireland’s and Greece’s. Reuters reports that PM Socrates is calling for a large decrease in government spending along with reducing pensions.