Economic Analysis

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

Hoisington Quarterly Review and Outlook – Second Quarter 2015

Outside the Box

July 22, 2015

In today’s Outside the Box, my good friend Lacy Hunt of Hoisington Investment Management reminds us that since the 1990-91 recession, the 30-year Treasury bond yield has dropped from 9% to 3%, a downward move nearly identical to the decline in the rate of inflation, which fell from just over 6% in 1990 to 0% today. Therefore, Lacy says, “(I)t was the backdrop of shifting inflationary circumstances that once again determined the trend in long-term Treasury bond yields.”

During that 25-year...

Productivity and Modern-Day Horse Manure

Thoughts from the Frontline

July 17, 2015

“They just use your mind and they never give you credit. It’s enough to drive you crazy if you let it.”

– Dolly Parton, “Working 9 to 5”

Almost everyone wants to be more productive. I include myself in that group – there are lots of ways I could be more productive. When I have conversations with people I think are very productive, they almost always tell me they wish they were more productive. What more could anyone expect from them?

It’s Not Over Till the Fat Lady Goes on a P/E Diet

Thoughts from the Frontline

July 10, 2015

For the vast majority of investors, portfolio returns are generated by the equity markets or at a minimum heavily influenced by the equity markets. We have enjoyed an almost six-year bull market run in the stock market, which has helped heal portfolios after the devastating market crash of the Great Recession. So much so that many prominent market analysts have proclaimed the beginning of a new secular bull market. If we have indeed entered such a new phase, we need to recognize it for what it...