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Thoughts From the Frontline, June 2005

The Idea of Europe

June 24, 2005

This week we return to Europe, as what is happening there is one of the most important questions of the day. It is every bit as critical to our long-term world economic future as the valuation of the Chinese currency or US trade deficits or Fed policy.

Let me set the stage with this note. I am not happy about and take no pleasure in what is happening in Europe. For a variety of reasons, I view it with some concern. A united Europe is simply better for the world at large, even...

Public Pensions, Public Disasters

June 17, 2005

This week we will look with fresh eyes at an old problem: US pension funds, both public and private, are under-funded, and the situation is getting worse. And the US taxpayer is going to get to fund the difference. The recent slew of data on pension funds suggests that little is being done to correct the huge and mounting problems I have written about for years. Even the recent market upturns of the past few years have not been as big a help as it should have been. I wrote this over two...

Whither Europe and the Euro?

June 10, 2005

What if the Malthusian doom and gloom crowd is wrong? What if the trend of lower population growth clearly evident in the developed world is echoed in the rest of the world? This week we look at a remarkable book by Ben Wattenberg called simply "Fewer." It is about "How the New Demography of the Population Will Shape Our Future." His thesis has implications for currency valuations, public pensions and the future of Europe, among many other things. The book has given me a great deal of...

Can the Fed Find the Sweet Spot?

June 3, 2005

The questions of the day seemed to revolve around Fed policy, the US trade deficit and the dollar. We look at all of these questions and more in today's letter. Specifically, I want to try to lay out three scenarios involving future Fed policy actions and what each possibility might mean for the US and global economies.

The Fed is in an extraordinarily difficult position. Some very distinguished observers believe the Fed should stop their tightening cycle now. Others think that not...