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Thoughts From the Frontline, August 2007

Hope Is Not a Strategy

August 31, 2007

Investors are constantly seeking "alpha," that elusive substance which yields returns in excess of a simple market portfolio. While I am flying today to Prague, this week good friend Rob Arnott teams up with associate John West to show that it is just as important to eliminate negative alpha. In fact, you could find an extra 2-4% in your returns just by doing so!

Rob starts with showing us what type of returns one can expect over the next ten years from the typical US market fund, and...

The Panic of 2007

August 17, 2007

End of the World or Muddle Through? This week I try to explain in simple terms the very complicated story of how we went from some bad mortgage loan practices in the US to the point of world credit markets freezing up. There is a connection between the retirement plans of Mr. and Mrs. Watanabe in Japan and the subprime problems of Mr. and Mrs. Smith in California. We find the relationship between European banks and problematic hedge funds. And finally, we try and see how we get out of...

The Fugu Ultimatum

August 10, 2007

In the early fall of 1998, I remember being on a flight to Bermuda from New York. I was upgraded and sat next to a very distinguished looking gentleman. He was going to a conference about re-insurance and I was going to speak at a large hedge fund conference. We hit it off, and began a very interesting conversation, one that still burns in my mind today. It turns out that he was vice-chairman of one of the largest insurance firms in the world, and was a real financial insider, seemingly...

The Mortgage Pig in the Python

August 3, 2007

With the economy increasingly looking like it will slow down materially in the last half of the year, there is a drum beat for the Federal Reserve to cut rates. But how likely is a rate cut this year? We take a very different look at inflation to see if there is any room for the Fed to give a boost to the economy. We look over our shoulder at Japan and the yen carry trade and ask a heretical question: does the Fed cutting rates make any difference?

Last Monday, I used an excellent...