Economic Analysis

Forecast 2008: Recession and Recovery

Thoughts from the Frontline

January 4, 2008

It's that time of year, when I throw caution to the wind and present my annual forecast issue. Jumping to the conclusion, I think a recession has begun, so the relevant question is to ask when the recovery will begin. We will look at the housing market, the continued implosion of the credit markets, and the deteriorating employment picture. Will the Fed worry more about employment and recession or about the very real inflation pressures? Oil? Gold? Which way the dollar? I am going to make some...

Pop Go the Bubbles

Thoughts from the Frontline

December 21, 2007

Consumer spending was much stronger than thought in November, yet Circuit City Stores Inc., Best Buy Co. and other retailers that warned of a slump in purchases. A private report today showed consumer confidence slid to the lowest level in more than two years in December. The stock market chooses to see all things bullish, and so it powers ever upward. This week we take a brief look at the consumer, recent "shock and awe" central bank actions, money supply and more, trying to see how it all...

A Little Acid Test for Fed "Liquidity"

Outside the Box

December 17, 2007

The Fed is getting ready to auction of $40 billion in repos this week. The stock market acted is if this was a special gift stuffed into its Christmas stocking last week, rebounding after a serious drop in the market the day before. This week in Outside the Box, Dr. John Hussman tells us why the $40 billion is more smoke and mirrors than actual money. It seems they had $39 billion coming due this week anyway. And in a $12.7 trillion dollar banking system it may not make much difference.

This...

Things That Go Bump in the Night

Thoughts from the Frontline

December 14, 2007

From ghoulies and ghosties
And long-leggedy beasties
And things that go bump in the night,
Good Lord, deliver us!

-Traditional Scottish Prayer

It's been a long time since we have looked in my worry closet, but there are definitely bumping sounds coming from behind the door. While largely over-looked, Bank of America closed down an "enhanced cash" fund and did the unthinkable and broke the buck. But the real story is even worse. I make the suggestion that you look at your cash funds and see...

China and the Arabian Peninsula as Market Stabilizers

Outside the Box

December 13, 2007

This week in a Special Outside the Box good friend George Friedman of Stratfor, in an unconventional piece, addresses the conundrum that equates low interest rates with market illiquidity, postulating on what may be the underlying cause of such an event. George seems to specialize in Outside the Box thinking, and this piece is no exception.

Stratfor continues to provide insightful and pertinent research on economic and geopolitical events and their respective ramifications. Stratfor continues...

The Shadow Knows

Outside the Box

December 10, 2007

This week in Outside the Box we will look at Bill Gross of Pimco's latest essay, addressing the ever expanding economic repercussions of the poorly understood CDO/CLO market, the off balance sheet structured investment vehicles (SIVs) and the economic abyss Bernanke and Company are attempting to lead the market out of with neither light nor guide. Bill sits on the top of the largest bond firm in the world, so they have some very unique insights into what is happening. I always pay attention to...

Black Swans and Endogenous Uncertainty

Thoughts from the Frontline

December 7, 2007

How does the risk of default in California or Thailand get spread throughout the world, causing problem in money market funds in Europe and Florida? Yes, we can trace the linkages now, but was it possible to predict the crisis beforehand? And can we use what we learn to predict and hopefully hedge ourselves from the next crisis? Why do these things seem to be happening with more frequency? This week we are going to look at some economic theories which will give us some insight into the above...

US Consumer Confidence Heads South

Outside the Box

December 4, 2007

In the second installment of our special two day Outside the Box letter, we have good friend Greg Weldon's giving us his thoughts in his regular "Weldon's Money Monitor." Consumer expenditures account for approximately 2/3rds of U.S. GDP. A precursor to any underlying changes in consumer expenditures is consumer sentiment. Greg explains to us the state of the American consumer and how current federal and institutional initiatives will not help thwart the looming recession. You can read his work...

The Wages of Financial Sin

Outside the Box

December 3, 2007

This week we turn to Michael Lewitt of HCM Capital for a very insightful letter on the current credit crisis. As I wrote on Friday, it is important for anyone with any involvement in the financial world to pay attention to what is going on in the credit markets. I think it is going to have far more impact than most observers apparently believe.

Michael E. Lewitt is the Managing Member and President of HCM (Hegemony Capital Management). You can read his letter at www.hegcap.com.

I should...

The Financial Fire Trucks Are Gathering

Thoughts from the Frontline

November 30, 2007

The markets rebounded strongly this week, bouncing off a 10% drop in the previous weeks. Is it a signal of renewed economic vigor? Or is it a dead cat bounce? This week we take a look at problems at the edge of the economy which threaten to derail not only the recent robust growth (at least in the statistics) but also the markets. And we start with a personal story which I think will help us understand the current situation. Stay with me here.

Last Thursday, we sat down for a massive...