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Thoughts From the Frontline, July 2002

The X Factor

July 25, 2002

Today we look at why oil prices are likely heading down, how brilliant economists come to the wrong conclusions and of course a few comments on the recent market action. Let's jump right in.

More Lies, Damned Lies and Statistics

Since I criticized the trade policies of President Bush last week, maybe I can work up enough nerve to critique a recent article by one of the more well-known economists in the country, Arthur Laffer, of Laffer Curve fame.

Et Tu, Dell?

July 19, 2002

For the past two weeks, I have presented a host of evidence that Price to Earnings (P/E) ratios would have trouble improving, even as actual profits and earnings grow in a modestly recovering economy. Changes in accounting standards, corporate governance and public perception will so change the rules as to how we measure profits, that public corporations will be fighting a strong head wind to show improved P/E ratios. Since this is a primary measure of the value of a stock, this "new profits...

Analyze This: Analysts Are Useless

July 12, 2002

The end of this week's e-letter will be Part Two of "Why P/E Ratios Will Not Rise As They Normally Do After a Recession." The whole piece will be a chapter in my new book, Absolute Returns. Of course, I will have to think of a snappier chapter title. But snappy or not, it is important you understand the dynamics that are working to hold down P/E ratios today, and why this means the long term secular bear market now in session will remain so for several years to come.

Irrational Assumptions

July 5, 2002

This morning I saw economist Larry Kudlow on CNBC once again telling us the markets would turn back up at some point because the economy is getting better. Kudlow is a smart man, and I pay attention to his thoughtful style.

But in this matter he is dead wrong. Over the past few weeks, I think I have made the point that the connection between a growing economy and the stock market is tenuous at best, and sometimes non-existent. A growing economy and a rising stock market co-exist in a secular...