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Thoughts From the Frontline, December 2005

The Yield Curve

December 30, 2005

The level of attention to the recent and mild inversion of the yield curve has bordered on hysteria in the media. Does it portend a recession? Or is, as Ethan Harris, the chief economist of Lehman Brothers suggests, the bond market simply on drugs? This week we pause in our series on trade deficits to look at the real meaning of the yield curve and what it does and, just as importantly, what it does not mean. I give you a basic primer on the yield curve, as well as links to more...

Be Careful What You Wish For

December 23, 2005

We are awash in debt, assert numerous authorities. And they point to the charts which show debt mounting seemingly to the sky. But not all debt is bad. Some of it is good. We should save more and spend less. But if we do, there are consequences that we may not like. What's good for an individual may be a problem for a global economy. We continue with our series on trade balance and debt, with the thought going through our minds "Be careful what you wish for."

But before we get into...

Do Trade Deficits Matter?

December 16, 2005

"I don't know whether change will come with a bang or a whimper, whether sooner or later. But as things stand now, it is more likely than not that it will be a financial crisis rather than a policy foresight that will force change." - Paul Volker

How long can the United States continue with an ever rising trade deficit? How far can debt rise? Will it end, as Paul Volker, former Chairman of the Fed stated above, in a financial crisis? Will it end as a soft depression as Bill Bonner...

As Though It Were Real Money

December 9, 2005

"Our analysis leads us to believe that recovery is only sound if it does come from itself. For any revival which is merely due to artificial stimulus leaves part of the work of depression undone and adds, to an undigested remnant of maladjustments, new maladjustments of its own." -- Joseph Schumpeter

How do we interpret the words of Schumpeter? Is the Austrian School of Economics right? Should the Federal Reserve have allowed the US (and thus the world) to go into a deep recession in...

Empire of Debt

December 2, 2005

"The economy in its entirety must continue to decline so long as more is being consumed than produced, and some part of consumption therefore takes place at the expense of the existing capital stock." - Friedrich August von Hayek

For the past few weeks we have looked at the argument for the case "This time it's different," made eloquently in a 130 page book called "Our Brave New World" by the very bright minds behind GaveKal Research. The trade deficit of the US does not matter, they...