Economic Analysis

Germany’s Trade Surplus Is a Problem

Outside the Box

April 9, 2015

In Code Red I wrote a great deal about trade imbalances among the various European countries, which were at the heart of the European sovereign debt problem. As the peripheral countries have tried to rebalance their trade deficits with Northern Europe and especially with Germany, they have seen their relative wages fall and deflation become a problem. Greece is the poster child.

The north-south imbalance in the Eurozone is still a problem today. In this week’s Outside the Box, I highlight a...

Economists in Glass Houses

Thoughts from the Frontline

April 7, 2015

For many economists, the chicken and egg question is, which came first, consumption or production? What drives growth? Let’s continue with our series on debt, in which I have been contrasting my views with those of Paul Krugman.

Central Banks, Credit Expansion, and the Importance of Being Impatient

Outside the Box

April 3, 2015

We live in a time of unprecedented financial repression. As I have continued writing about this, I have become increasingly angry about the fact that central banks almost everywhere have decided to address the economic woes of the world by driving down the returns on the savings of those who can least afford it – retirees and pensioners.

This week’s Outside the Box, from my good friend Chris Whalen of Kroll Bond Rating Agency, goes farther and outlines how a low-interest-rate and massive QE...

Living in a Free-Lunch World

Thoughts from the Frontline

March 28, 2015

“Everyone is a prisoner of his own experiences. No one can eliminate prejudices – just recognize them.”

– Edward R. Murrow, US broadcast journalist & newscaster (1908 – 1965), television broadcast, December 31, 1955

“High debt levels, whether in the public or private sector, have historically placed a drag on growth and raised the risk of financial crises that spark deep economic recessions.”

– The McKinsey Institute, “Debt and (not much) Deleveraging”...

US Dollar: American Phoenix

Outside the Box

March 24, 2015

 “Just a little patience, yeah…”

– Guns N’ Roses

Lastweek the FOMC essentially removed forward guidance and placed all options back on the table, and at the end of the day they’ve opened the door for further tightening. As Yellen recently explained in advance, the removal of the word patience from the Fed’s guidance amounts to fair warning to the rest of the world’s central banks: an interest rate hike is on the horizon. Govern your actions accordingly. (My personal guess, for those...

Never Smile at a Crocodile

Thoughts from the Frontline

March 10, 2015

“High debt levels, whether in the public or private sector, have historically placed a drag on growth and raised the risk of financial crises that spark deep economic recessions.”

– The McKinsey Institute, “Debt and (not much) deleveraging

Never smile at a crocodile
No, you can't get friendly with a crocodile
Don't be taken in by his welcome grin
He's imagining how well you'd fit within his skin
Never smile at a crocodile
Never tip your hat and stop to talk awhile
Never run, walk...

The Kingdom Of Denmark

Outside the Box

March 4, 2015

In Thoughts from the Frontline, I am in the middle of writing a series on debt. I realized on Sunday that the second installment wasn’t ready for prime time, so I will work on it some more and send it out (hopefully) this coming weekend. In the meantime, in keeping with the theme of debt, for today’s Outside the Box we have the following issue of The Credit Strategist from the ever-insightful Michael Lewitt. Michael starts out musing on debt and then shares a number of useful thoughts on a...

Shovelin’ Schmitt Against the Tide

Outside the Box

February 27, 2015

There is an obsession in the marketplace over the date when the Fed will once again begin to raise rates. As if another 25 basis points is going to change the economics on tens of trillions of dollars of investments. But as we reflect on the issue more deeply, it becomes obvious that a minor bump in the fed funds rate will indeed change a great deal of economics all over the world.

No, it won’t do much to the cap rate on your latest real estate purchase, but it is likely to greatly affect...

Debt Be Not Proud

Thoughts from the Frontline

February 24, 2015

Some things never change. Here is Eugen von Böhm-Bawerk, one of the founding intellectuals of the Austrian school of economics, writing in January 1914, lambasting politicians for their complicity in the corruption of monetary policy:

What Uber Could Teach the American Economy

Outside the Box

February 20, 2015

When I travel around the country, one of the questions that comes up often in conversation is, where will the jobs of the future come from? I have a stock answer that I glibly offer:

In 1980, the Japanese were beating our brains out. Inflation was well into the double digits, as was unemployment. Finding a job was hard (I know), as one industry after another was being reconfigured and jobs seemed to be disappearing left and right. The answer to the question “Where will the jobs come from?”...