Thoughts From the Frontline, November 2013

Arsonists Running the Fire Brigade

November 30, 2013

The true measure of a career is to be able to be content, even proud, that you succeeded through your own endeavors without leaving a trail of casualties in your wake.

– Alan Greenspan

If economists could manage to get themselves thought of as humble, competent people on a level with dentists, that would be splendid.

– John Maynard Keynes

And He spoke a parable to them: "Can the blind lead the blind? Will they not both fall into the ditch?"

– Luke 6:39-40

Six years ago I hosted my...

Game of Thrones – European Style

November 24, 2013

In 2009-10 it seemed like this letter was all Europe all the time. There was a never-ending crisis from one corner of the Continent to the other. That time seems to have slowly faded from our collective consciousness, but the Eurozone crisis is not over, and it will not end quickly or soon. Even if it seems to unfold in slow motion – like the slow build-up in a Game of Thrones storyline to violent internecine clashes followed by more slow plot developments but never any real resolution, the...

The Unintended Consequences of ZIRP

November 17, 2013

Yellen's coronation was this week. Art Cashin mused that it was a wonder some senator did not bring her a corsage: it was that type of confirmation hearing. There were a few interesting questions and answers, but by and large we heard what we already knew. And what we know is that monetary policy is going to be aggressively biased to the easy side for years, or at least that is the current plan. Far more revealing than the testimony we heard on Thursday were the two very important papers that...

What Would Yellen Do?

November 10, 2013

The US Senate Banking Committee will hold hearings on Thursday, November 14, on the nomination of Janet Yellen for Federal Reserve chair. There will be the usual softball questions, for example, "Do you think high unemployment is a problem in the United States and if so what do you intend to do about it?" (which allows a senator to express his concern over unemployment and for the nominee to agree that it's a problem). Or the always popular question, "What is the basis under which you would...

Bubbles, Bubbles Everywhere

November 1, 2013

(Note to readers: A small number of readers reported receiving a blank email of today's Thoughts from the Frontline, and so we decided to resend the letter in order to ensure that all readers were getting it.)

The difference between genius and stupidity is that genius has its limits.
– Albert Einstein

Genius is a rising stock market.
– John Kenneth Galbraith

Any plan conceived in moderation must fail when circumstances are set in extremes.
– Prince Metternich

You can almost feel it...