Economic Analysis

US Dollar: American Phoenix

Outside the Box

March 24, 2015

 “Just a little patience, yeah…”

– Guns N’ Roses

Lastweek the FOMC essentially removed forward guidance and placed all options back on the table, and at the end of the day they’ve opened the door for further tightening. As Yellen recently explained in advance, the removal of the word patience from the Fed’s guidance amounts to fair warning to the rest of the world’s central banks: an interest rate hike is on the horizon. Govern your actions accordingly. (My personal guess, for those...

Never Smile at a Crocodile

Thoughts from the Frontline

March 10, 2015

“High debt levels, whether in the public or private sector, have historically placed a drag on growth and raised the risk of financial crises that spark deep economic recessions.”

– The McKinsey Institute, “Debt and (not much) deleveraging

Never smile at a crocodile
No, you can't get friendly with a crocodile
Don't be taken in by his welcome grin
He's imagining how well you'd fit within his skin
Never smile at a crocodile
Never tip your hat and stop to talk awhile
Never run, walk...

The Kingdom Of Denmark

Outside the Box

March 4, 2015

In Thoughts from the Frontline, I am in the middle of writing a series on debt. I realized on Sunday that the second installment wasn’t ready for prime time, so I will work on it some more and send it out (hopefully) this coming weekend. In the meantime, in keeping with the theme of debt, for today’s Outside the Box we have the following issue of The Credit Strategist from the ever-insightful Michael Lewitt. Michael starts out musing on debt and then shares a number of useful thoughts on a...

Shovelin’ Schmitt Against the Tide

Outside the Box

February 27, 2015

There is an obsession in the marketplace over the date when the Fed will once again begin to raise rates. As if another 25 basis points is going to change the economics on tens of trillions of dollars of investments. But as we reflect on the issue more deeply, it becomes obvious that a minor bump in the fed funds rate will indeed change a great deal of economics all over the world.

No, it won’t do much to the cap rate on your latest real estate purchase, but it is likely to greatly affect...

Debt Be Not Proud

Thoughts from the Frontline

February 24, 2015

Some things never change. Here is Eugen von Böhm-Bawerk, one of the founding intellectuals of the Austrian school of economics, writing in January 1914, lambasting politicians for their complicity in the corruption of monetary policy:

What Uber Could Teach the American Economy

Outside the Box

February 20, 2015

When I travel around the country, one of the questions that comes up often in conversation is, where will the jobs of the future come from? I have a stock answer that I glibly offer:

In 1980, the Japanese were beating our brains out. Inflation was well into the double digits, as was unemployment. Finding a job was hard (I know), as one industry after another was being reconfigured and jobs seemed to be disappearing left and right. The answer to the question “Where will the jobs come from?”...

Mamas, Don’t Let Your Babies Grow Up to Be Pension Fund Managers

Thoughts from the Frontline

February 15, 2015

We do not have to look to Greece to find massively underfunded obligations. Here in the US we can find hundreds of examples, willingly created by politicians and businessmen who proclaim they are working for the public good. We call them pension funds, but they’re just another form of unfunded debt. A sovereign bond is a promise to pay a certain amount of money over time. A defined-benefit pension fund is a promise to pay a certain amount of income over time. The value of either is determined...

Hoisington Quarterly Review and Outlook – Fourth Quarter 2014

Outside the Box

February 11, 2015

Forecasting is a singularly difficult task and is more often than not fraught with failure. The Federal Reserve has some of the smartest economists in the world, and yet their forecasts are so wrong so often (as in, they almost never get it right) that some have pointed out that it’s almost statistically impossible to be as bad as the Fed. Yet they continue to issue such forecasts and to base economic and monetary policy on them. Go figure.

Their forecasts, like most economic predictions,...

The Eurozone: Collateral Damage

Thoughts from the Frontline

February 8, 2015

Collateral damage. Unintended consequences. Friendly fire. Certainly no one intended to have a global banking meltdown when they let Lehman Bros. go under.

The Preface from Flashpoints

Outside the Box

February 4, 2015

All eyes are focused on Europe this week as another Greek drama plays itself out. I have to admit that in my student days I was forced to sit through a number of Greek dramas, which are admittedly a fine part of our cultural heritage; but while I can appreciate their time and place in history, I really can’t say that I enjoyed them all that much.

And while I can appreciate the passions involved in the unfolding Greek melodrama that is sweeping Europe, I must admit that I’m a bit weary of...