Economic Analysis

NFIB Small Business Economic Trends – October 2017

Outside the Box

November 15, 2017

Today’s Outside the Box is a report that most of you have read about or seen quoted but have never actually seen directly. It is the National Federation of Independent Businesses (NFIB) Small Business Economic Trends monthly report, which they have done since 1973. It was at first a quarterly and then switched to a monthly in 1985. It is thus a continuous record of the ups and downs of small business trends and moods, and is a great barometer of the economy.

The man in charge of the index, my...

The Bitcoin Bubble Explained in 4 Charts


November 13, 2017

The Distribution of Pain

Thoughts from the Frontline

November 10, 2017

When you write about economics, you learn very quickly that the economy doesn’t care what you say about it. The forces that drive it are beyond any one person’s comprehension, much less control.

Saudi Arabia’s Saturday Night Massacre

Outside the Box

November 8, 2017

This weekend, while we here in the US were focused on the upcoming election and President Trump’s visit to Asia, a powerful drama with vast geopolitical implications played out in Saudi Arabia.

Mohammad bin Salman, the king’s son, is the de facto ruler of the country and has been making increasingly aggressive moves in an attempt to shift Saudi Arabia from its status as an ultraconservative oil-producing nation to a 21st-century manufacturing superpower with social mores to match. In doing so...

What Will the Next Crisis Look Like?

Outside the Box

November 3, 2017

One of the main topics of discussion everywhere I go is, what will the next crisis look like; along with: Where will it come from; what will the market response be; and what will be the source of the volatility? There is always volatility during a crisis.

I have been saying in writing for some time that I think the next crisis will reveal how little liquidity there is in the credit markets, especially in the high-yield, lower-rated space. Dodd–Frank has greatly limited the ability of banks to...

The Fragmentation of Society

Thoughts from the Frontline

October 29, 2017

Lately, my life has been completely packed with speeches, meetings, and in-depth, often lengthy, conversations. Plus ongoing research and writing, of course. It all culminated Thursday afternoon at the beginning of a business meeting with the leadership team from a firm that will become a significant new business partner. At the very beginning of the meeting, the head of the firm leaned over to me and asked, “What’s on the top of your mind? What are you thinking about?” The previous night we...

Is the Bubble Economy Set to Burst?

Outside the Box

October 25, 2017

My friend Andy Xie, based in Shanghai, is a very independent-minded investment analyst and economist. With a PhD from MIT, he has been at the IMF and was a star economist for the Morgan Stanley Asia-Pacific group. His ofttimes bearish calls on various parts of the Chinese economy have elicited a lot of criticism from Chinese officials and retail investors. I have been on the stage with him several times, both on the same side of debates and on opposite sides – he is a formidable opponent! We do...

Rethinking Education

Thoughts from the Frontline

October 22, 2017

This week’s letter will be more like an Outside the Box than a Thoughts from the Frontline. I am feeling under the weather, and while I can read and move around somewhat, I am really not thinking all that well and am not up to wasting your time writing a letter that neither you nor I will be happy with.

The Passive Investing Bubble May Trigger A Massive Exodus from Stocks


October 18, 2017

Just own the damn robots.

Outside the Box

October 18, 2017

If you spend any time watching CNBC, you know who “Downtown Josh Brown” is. He is a thoughtful analyst on the markets and someone I consider a friend. He writes a blog called The Reformed Broker that I think can properly be characterized as irreverent.

His latest letter is an Outside the Box way of thinking about the current bull market. I’m not sure whether he is offering this tongue in cheek or not, but he is speaking to the same thing that I’ve been talking about for quite some time: the...