Thoughts From the Frontline, February 2010

The Multiplication of Money

February 26, 2010

The economy grew in the fourth quarter by 5.9%, the most in years. The adjusted monetary base is exploding. Bank reserves are literally through the roof. The Fed is flooding money into the system in an effort to get banks to lend. An historically normal response by banks (to increase lending) would have been massively inflationary, causing the Fed to stomp on the brakes. Despite raising the almost meaningless discount rate (as who uses it?), this week Ben Bernanke assured Congress of an easy...

The Pain in Spain

February 19, 2010

Last week we talked about Greece. But the problems are more than just Greece. We look at two very different views of the euro, and then opposing thoughts on Spain. Is Spain a problem or not? And how can the US keep on spending? Is there a limit? There is a lot to cover in what has been an interesting, if confusing, week.

Before we get into the meat of the letter, I want to give you a chance to register for my 7th (where do the years go?!) annual Strategic Investment Conference, cosponsored...

Between Dire and Disastrous

February 12, 2010

The news is somewhat "All Greece, All the Time," but most of the pieces miss the more critical elements, and in today's letter we will look at what I think those are, as well as at the important point that Greece is a precursor of a new era of sovereign risk. Plus, we glance at a few rather silly recent comments from economists. It will make for a very interesting discussion.

A few weeks ago I mentioned my friend Sir Walt Ratterman, who was in Haiti at the time of the earthquake. Long-time...

A Bubble in Search of a Pin

February 5, 2010

Should Greenspan and Bernanke have seen the bubble in housing and other assets and acted, or should we accept their defense that you can't know whether there is a bubble until after the fact? We will look at research that suggests they should have known, and, at the least, policy makers should no longer be allowed to say, "How could I have known?"

Of course, the employment numbers came out this morning, and the results are mixed; but that is better than they have been for the past two years....