Economic Analysis

China for the Trade Win?

Thoughts from the Frontline

September 21, 2018

With all the trade war talk, we all ask the obvious question: Who will win? President Trump says the US will win. Chinese business leaders say no, we will win. Free-traders on both sides say no one will win. Few stop to ask, “What does a ‘win’ look like?”

Chinese Growth Spurt

Thoughts from the Frontline

September 14, 2018

Economic reality isn’t black and white. At any given time, both good things and bad things are happening. Ignoring one side because it doesn’t fit your preferred outlook is an excellent way to go badly wrong.

China’s Command Innovation

Thoughts from the Frontline

September 7, 2018

Hardly a day passes without some sort of China news in the financial headlines. There’s a good reason, too. China is the global economy’s 600-pound gorilla, second in size only to the US. Yes, it was largely a copycat business economy up until the early 2000s, but Chinese entrepreneurs have really taken charge in the last 10 years. Fueled by the profits from huge consumer demand, they are expanding not only in China but globally. This story is largely ignored in the US and in much of Europe. We...

The Growing Economic Sandpile

Thoughts from the Frontline

August 31, 2018

“How did you go bankrupt?” 
“Two ways. Gradually, then suddenly.”

―Ernest Hemingway, The Sun Also Rises

Revolutionary Future Ahead

Thoughts from the Frontline

August 24, 2018

Back in 1936, in Esquire magazine of all places, F. Scott Fitzgerald wrote something profound. “The test of a first-rate intelligence is the ability to hold two opposed ideas in the mind at the same time, and still retain the ability to function.”

The Good News Economy

Thoughts from the Frontline

August 17, 2018

In my business, there is a fine line between standing by your conclusions and being unwisely stubborn. But no matter what I say, people will still label me a perma-bear or perma-bull—often at the same time. It’s an occupational hazard to which I am accustomed.

The Maine Surprise Was Time

Thoughts from the Frontline

August 10, 2018

I’m back from Camp Kotok. As always, it was both rejuvenating and enlightening. The Maine woods, lakes, and general environment encourage more candor than I see most places. This, combined with David Kotok’s talent for assembling a diverse group and the always-marvelous Maine hospitality, made it another great success. It helps that David aggressively enforces Chatham House Rules and the Jackson Hole Rule. So you really don’t have to worry what you say.

The Distribution of Pain, Redux

Thoughts from the Frontline

August 3, 2018

This week I have something special for you: an update of “The Distribution of Pain,” one of 2017’s most popular letters. I say “popular” just in terms of feedback and reprint requests. It was thought-provoking but also sobering. I started with the original version, re-edited to clarify a few points, and added some new comments. It is still a timely, important topic.

Endgame Strategizing

Thoughts from the Frontline

July 27, 2018

We are all on a debt-filled train that is eventually going to crash, and if you are on it, it won’t stop to let you off first. Jumping at the last minute is not a good option, either. So what do you do? You take action now, while you have time.

How to Dodge the Debt Train

Thoughts from the Frontline

July 20, 2018

Standing in front of a speeding train is rarely a good idea, but most investors are doing it right now. They survive only because the debt train is still way down the tracks. It is nonetheless coming, and you will want to move before then. But which way?