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Thoughts From the Frontline, January 2010

This Time Is Different

January 29, 2010

"Our immersion in the details of crises that have arisen over the past eight centuries and in data on them has led us to conclude that the most commonly repeated and most expensive investment advice ever given in the boom just before a financial crisis stems from the perception that 'this time is different.' That advice, that the old rules of valuation no longer apply, is usually followed up with vigor. Financial professionals and, all too often, government leaders explain that we are doing...

Thoughts on the End Game

January 22, 2010

When I was at Rice University, so many decades ago, I played a lot of bridge. I was only mediocre, but enjoyed it. We had a professor, Dr. Culbertson, who was a bridge Life Master at an early age. He was single and lived in our college, playing bridge with us almost every night. He was a master of the "end game." He had an uncanny ability to seemingly force his opponents into no-win situations, understanding where the cards had to lie and taking advantage.

Traveling to London and on into...

When the Fed Stops the Music

January 15, 2010

Last week we delved into the uncertainties that face us and that make forecasting for 2010 problematical. Will the government actually increase taxes as much as they say, with unemployment still likely to be at 10%? Or will cooler heads prevail? Would such an increase cause a recession? Will the markets anticipate the effects of such a major increase in advance? How will the mortgage market react when the Fed stops buying mortgage securities at the end of March? There are so many things in the...

2010 Forecast: The Year of Uncertainty

January 8, 2010

"Lying here, during all this time after my own small fall, it has become my conviction that things mean pretty much what we want them to mean. We'll pluck significance from the least consequential happenstance if it suits us and happily ignore the most flagrantly obvious symmetry between separate aspects of our lives if it threatens some cherished prejudice or cosily comforting belief; we are blindest to precisely whatever might be most illuminating."

-- from Transition, by Iain M. Banks

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