Economic Analysis

Weapons of Economic Misdirection

Thoughts from the Frontline

August 28, 2015

“Measurement theory shows that strong assumptions are required for certain statistics to provide meaningful information about reality. Measurement theory encourages people to think about the meaning of their data. It encourages critical assessment of the assumptions behind the analysis.

“In ‘pure’ science, we can form a better, more coherent, and objective picture of the world, based on the information measurement provides. The information allows us to create models of (parts of) the world and...

The Corruption of American Freedom

Outside the Box

August 26, 2015

This is going to be an unusual Outside the Box. I’ve been part of the political process, both as a practitioner and an observer, for some 40 years. I cast my first vote in the presidential election for George McGovern but by the 1980s had made a hard right turn. Over the last decade I’ve been far less involved but no less interested.

I’ve been struck during the past month by the continued popularity of Donald Trump and Bernie Sanders. A recent Michigan Republican primary poll had 55% of the...

Playing the Chinese Trump Card

Thoughts from the Frontline

August 22, 2015

“I know the Chinese. I’ve made a lot of money with the Chinese. I understand the Chinese mind.”

– Donald Trump, 2011

Back in the olden days (pre-2000 or so), information junkies like me relied on printed newspapers, paper magazines, TV newscasts, and snail-mail newsletters. All these channels still exist, but they can’t begin to compete with the constant stream of data rushing into our tablets and smartphones. And on some days the stream rushes faster.

Another Day Younger and Deeper in Debt

Outside the Box

August 19, 2015

My friend Neil Howe, author of Generations, The Fourth Turning, and other books and president of Saeculum Research, joins us today in Outside the Box with a succinct, eye-opening essay on generational differences in debt levels and attitudes towards debt.

I often write about the problems that come with overindebtedness, but we’re usually talking about public debt, here in the US or abroad. But personal or household debt in America is nearly as massive as government debt, as this chart shows:

...

Riding the Energy Wave to the Future

Thoughts from the Frontline

August 14, 2015

“Formula for success: rise early, work hard, strike oil.”

– J. Paul Getty

This week’s yuan devaluation was big news, but it’s really part of a much bigger saga. Events around the globe are combining to create huge economic change over the next few years. We are watching giant, multidimensional chess games played by some master players.

Commodity Weakness Persists

Outside the Box

August 12, 2015

In today’s Outside the Box, good friend Gary Shilling gives us deeper insight into the global economic trends that have led to China’s headline-making, market-shaking devaluation of the renminbi. He reminds us that today’s currency moves and lagging growth are the (perhaps inevitable) outcome of China massive expansion of output for many products that started more than a decade ago. China was at the epicenter of a commodity bubble that got underway in 2002, soon after China joined the World...

Closing the Sausage Factory

Thoughts from the Frontline

August 7, 2015

“Bureaucracy destroys initiative. There is little that bureaucrats hate more than innovation, especially innovation that produces better results than the old routines. Improvements always make those at the top of the heap look inept. Who enjoys appearing inept?”

– Frank Herbert, Heretics of Dune

“Economies naturally grow. People innovate as they go through life. They also look around at what others are doing and adopt better practices or tools. They invest, accumulating financial, human and...

Europe’s Greek Tragedy

Outside the Box

August 5, 2015

In this week’s Outside the Box we have a unique diagnosis of Europe’s ills from … a medical doctor. The author is Dr. Luc De Keyser, who currently serves as the chief medical information officer at Xperthis, the largest provider of hospital information systems solutions in Belgium. He has done pioneering work in multicenter clinical trials, medical ontologies, paleonutrition, and examining human conflict from an evolutionary perspective.

Dr. De Keyser (writing for Stratfor) is not sanguine...

When China Stopped Acting Chinese

Thoughts from the Frontline

July 31, 2015

“The one thing I know for sure about China is, I will never know China. It's too big, too old, too diverse, too deep. There's simply not enough time.”

– Anthony Bourdain, Parts Unknown

Much of the world is focused on what is happening in Greece and Europe. A lot of people are paying attention to the Middle East and geopolitics. These are significant concerns, for sure; but what has been happening in China the past few months has more far-reaching global investment implications than Europe or...

Europe: Running on Borrowed Time

Thoughts from the Frontline

July 25, 2015

“I am sure the euro will oblige us to introduce a new set of economic policy instruments. It is politically impossible to propose that now. But some day there will be a crisis and new instruments will be created.”

– Romano Prodi, EU Commission president, December 2001