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Thoughts From the Frontline, Europe

32 posts tagged with “Europe”.

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The Problem with the Euro

May 30, 2008

Last week I wrote that we could see a drop in the price of oil as speculators seemed to be storing oil in very large tankers and "slow steaming" them to port in a bet that prices would rise. When everyone is on the same side of the trade, the time is right for a reversal. This is especially true when there is a large potential supply sitting on the sidelines.

This week we briefly look at this prediction, and perhaps even more ominous problems for commodities in general, at least in the short run. The new turn our attention to the euro. It will make for an interesting letter.

First off, oil dropped about 4% yesterday and is down almost $10 from its high only a week ago. Yet supplies of crude oil surprisingly dropped by 8.8 million barrels yesterday. Oil shot up on the news as both those who were short covered their bets and even more people piled into the long side of the trade.


The Idea of Europe

June 24, 2005

This week we return to Europe, as what is happening there is one of the most important questions of the day. It is every bit as critical to our long-term world economic future as the valuation of the Chinese currency or US trade deficits or Fed policy.

Let me set the stage with this note. I am not happy about and take no pleasure in what is happening in Europe. For a variety of reasons, I view it with some concern. A united Europe is simply better for the world at large, even recognizing the problems associated with unity. I recognize the polarities and difficulties. But I had always hoped (and still do), that somewhat like Massachusetts and Texas, or California and Alabama, a political union could emerge.


Whither Europe and the Euro?

June 10, 2005

What if the Malthusian doom and gloom crowd is wrong? What if the trend of lower population growth clearly evident in the developed world is echoed in the rest of the world? This week we look at a remarkable book by Ben Wattenberg called simply "Fewer." It is about "How the New Demography of the Population Will Shape Our Future." His thesis has implications for currency valuations, public pensions and the future of Europe, among many other things. The book has given me a great deal of food for thought, and I share some of those deliberations with you. Not all of my speculation is pretty, but these are topics which will be addressed, because the markets will not allow them to be ignored.


Forecast: The Next Ten Years

April 16, 2005

This week we look at how politics and geopolitical events can affect our investments. We look at a decade-long forecast from one of my favorite information services: Stratfor.com. I change my view on the euro, talk about a possible Chinese recession and look at uncomfortable analogies between 1900 and today. There's a lot of ground to cover so we will jump right in.

I have had the relative value of currencies on my mind every day for the past two weeks. I have been in London, where the pound sterling is at a staggeringly high level, almost two dollars to the pound. Prices in London have always been high, even when the dollar was at its peak. Now they border on the absurd, at least to someone used to the economical confines of Texas. Admittedly I was in a high rent district (Mayfair), but a simple round-trip subway ride was $8. From my viewpoint, it seemed that the price of everything was almost double and sometimes triple what it is for me locally in Texas. There are no cheap drunks in London. Expensive drunks, maybe, but no cheap ones (and no decent steaks).


The Real Old Europe

March 21, 2003

This week, it is hard to sit down and think about anything other than Iraq, especially given the circumstances in which our troops and those of our allies and the citizens of Iraq find themselves. Our prayers are for all those and their families involved. Last week, I wrote that it was likely that the war would have begun before the next weekly letter. I hope that next week's letter finds the war is over.


Deflating Europe, Housing Bubbles and Greenspan’s Amnesia

March 7, 2003

I am writing this week's e-letter early, as tomorrow I travel to speak at an investment conference in Florida. As I review the articles and reports of the last few weeks, I am struck by the number of very interesting topics which deserve their own letter. There is truly a lot happening, so like the billiards player trying to make a difficult four bank shot, we will go from one side of the table to another and hope we end up making the shot, or at least making a point or two.


Greenspan Fiddles and the French Dance

February 14, 2003

Sometimes it is the small things that lead to big changes. Today we briefly look at one paragraph in Greenspan's latest speech, then move on to Europe and Iraq. I want to suggest some small things that could lead to changes in global politics and the world economy just as significant as the fall of the Berlin Wall. My theme for 2003 was Surprise and Transition." I think we are getting ready for our first true surprise. Again, there is a lot to go over, so let's get started.


Sucker Rally or New Bull?

November 22, 2002

Today we are going to look at the world economy, muse on why the dollar is holding its own and when and why it will drop. Then I make a few comments on the current stock market rally. Finally, in a departure from the normal letter, I am going to close the regular e-letter, but add a PS in the form of an essay on the risk of derivatives for those who find the subject interesting.

The US Muddles Through

The world economy is clearly not healthy. Let's look at the US, and then we will go around the world. The US economy grew at 3.1% for the last quarter, which ahs been loudly trumpeted by the cheerleaders on Wall Street. But digging down into the details, we find that if you take out the explosive growth in automobile sales caused by 0% financing, the growth was only 1.5%. The predictions are for a weak holiday buying season. Car sales are now down. Housing was down 11.4% in October, capacity utilization is almost back down to recession lows and the trade deficit widens. Retail store sales are slightly down.


The Grandfather of Bear Markets

October 18, 2002

Today we return to our assigned task of trying to find some patterns in the data to help us determine the direction of the economy and the markets. There are lots of bread crumbs on this trail, so let's see what conclusions they lead us to.

First, the evidence mounts that we are still in what I call the Muddle Through Economy - a slow growth, no-new-jobs type of recovery that seems to be alternately teasing us with potential for growth and frustrating us with weakness. Weakness is winning.


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