Economic Analysis

The Wall

Outside the Box

October 21, 2015

I generally send out two letters a week. The letter that arrives in your inbox over the weekend is Thoughts from the Frontline and is written by me. The second letter, which is called Outside the Box, generally comes in the middle of the week and is an article or essay written by someone else that I think merits your time. Quite often I disagree with the sentiment or analysis being expressed, but I find the writer makes me think about alternatives to my personally favored presuppositions. It is...

The “Age” Age

Thoughts from the Frontline

October 18, 2015

As I mentioned in last week’s letter, I traveled to San Francisco last Monday with my friend Patrick Cox, who writes our Transformational Technology Alert newsletter. We had dinner with Dr. Mike West of Biotime and then spent the next morning at the Buck Institute for Research on Aging. Pat and I decided we would jointly report on what we learned. He has already written his part, which was published last week. I am going to reproduce portions of that letter, which highlight the conversation...

Hoisington Quarterly Review and Outlook – 3Q2015

Outside the Box

October 16, 2015

Lacy Hunt has a way of getting right to the point. Thus, in the opening paragraph of Hoisington Management’s 3Q “Review and Outlook,” today’s Outside the Box, Lacy nails the global economy to the wall:

Future business activity will reflect two economic realities: 1) the over-indebted state of the U.S. economy and the world; and 2) the inability of the Federal Reserve to initiate policies to promote growth in this environment.

If that’s not a pithy, spot-on summary of our sorry situation, I...

Unhealthy, Not Wealthy, and Far from Wise

Thoughts from the Frontline

October 11, 2015

“The first wealth is health.”
– Ralph Waldo Emerson

“Man needs difficulties. They are necessary for health.”
– Carl Jung

Decisions, decisions. Many Americans will have to make a big one in the next 60 days or so. How you decide will affect both your health and your wallet. Hospital management and doctors are seeing significant differences in the trends of patient care and are moving to adapt. Some of the changes they implement are going to create significant economic impacts on households and...

Blodget on Market History

Outside the Box

October 7, 2015

I remember the first time I walked into Henry Blodget’s new startup, Business Insider, back in 2009. Twelve fresh-faced kids were crammed into a room about the size of my bedroom, pounding away on laptops, creating a new destination website. He took me over to a corner; we sat down in front of a few cameras; and he began shooting question after question at me, later turning the session into a series of interviews.

You walk into his office today and it’s still packed wall-to-wall with...

Recession Watch

Thoughts from the Frontline

October 4, 2015

“Growth is never by mere chance; it is the result of forces working together.”

– J.C. Penney

“Strength and growth come only through continuous effort and struggle.”

– Napoleon Hill

“We’re lost, but we’re making good time.”

Yogi Berra, 1925-2015, RIP (For a most moving and memory-laden tribute to Yogi, see The Lefsetz Letter.)

A Worrying Set Of Signals

Outside the Box

October 2, 2015

There is presently a bull market in complacency. There are very few alarm bells going off anywhere; and frankly, in reaction to my own personal complacency, I have my antenna up for whatever it is I might be missing that would indicate an approaching recession.

It was very easy to call the last two recessions well in advance because we had inverted yield curves. In the US at least, that phenomenon has a perfect track record of predicting recessions. The problem now is that, with the Federal...

Balloons in Search of Needles

Thoughts from the Frontline

September 27, 2015

I love waterfalls. I’ve seen some of the world’s best, and they always have an impact. The big ones leave me awestruck at nature’s power. It was about 20 years ago that I did a boat trip on the upper Zambezi, ending at Victoria Falls. Such a placid river, full of game and hippopotamuses (and the occasional croc); and then you begin to hear the roar of the falls from miles away. Unbelievably majestic. From there the Zambezi River turns into a whitewater rafting dream, offering numerous class 5...

Germany’s Immigration Challenge

Outside the Box

September 23, 2015

This immigration crisis in Europe is a big deal, and it’s a bigger deal for Germany than for any other European country. Germany is directly in the firing line, both geographically and in terms of how many of the migrants want to settle there. Nearly 40% of migrants choose Germany as their preferred final destination, while the only other nation that is chosen by more than 10% of migrants is Hungary, at 18%.

Daniel Stelter is a very wired German economist and business thinker. He wrote to me a...

Merkel Opens the Gates

Thoughts from the Frontline

September 19, 2015

“The European Project has very little economic and political capital left to defend it if anything goes wrong now. As Mr Juncker says, the bell tolls.”
– Ambrose Evans-Pritchard

Perhaps I should issue a storm warning for this letter. Maybe it’s because I had major gum surgery on my entire lower jaw this week and am in a bit of discomfort, but as I read the news coming through my inbox, it’s not helping my mood. This week’s letter will focus on the immigration crisis in Europe – after I muse on...