Outside the Box, December 2008
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December 29, 2008
This week I have a special Outside the Box for you. My long-time friend Doug Casey wrote a very prescient piece back in 1997. He has updated it somewhat for today's times. The critical part is a summary of the work of Richard Strauss and (friend) John Howe and their book The Fourth Turning, which I consider one of the more important and prescient (that word again) books of the last 25 years. (Amazon.com). It should still be read today. It is seminal to understanding the times we live in.
December 22, 2008
Have you done your Christmas shopping yet? Research shows that more of us are putting it off in expectations of better prices. In other words deflationary expectations! The prices I have seen while out shopping the past few weeks are simply amazing. I have to admit to have made a few purchases for some items that I was not planning to buy just yet because prices were off by 60% or more. A few days ago a friend came in sporting a new black cashmere sweater top with jeweled embroidery and quite...
December 18, 2008
There are plenty of sources out there that are happy to tell you what's happening in the world, and much of it matters. But oftentimes, what's much more important is the dog that didn't bark. Remember Enron's undisclosed subsidiaries? Or the off-balance sheet holdings of just about every financial services firm?
Sherlock Holmes uses the dog that didn't bark to solve the mystery -- the dog had to know the intruder. My friend George Friedman's company, Stratfor, uses the dog that...
December 15, 2008
This week I am really delighted to be able to give you a condensed version of Gary Shilling's latest INSIGHT newsletter for your Outside the Box. Each month I really look forward to getting Gary's latest thoughts on the economy and investing. Last year in his forecast issue he suggested 13 investment ideas, all of which were profitable by the end of the year. It is not unusual for Gary to give us over 75 charts and tables in his monthly letters along with his commentary, which makes his...
December 8, 2008
What is fair value for stocks? Are they now cheap? You can certainly make that argument by comparing valuations based on past performance. But repeat after me, "Past performance is not indicative of future returns." The investment climate of today is almost certainly going to be quite different than that of the 80's and 90's. Thus, to expect stocks to repeat the performance of the last bull market in a climate of government intervention, deleveraging and increased regulations may not be...
December 3, 2008
As various companies go hat in hand to Washington for a bailout, a recurring topic is what guaranty do the taxpayers get that they're not just throwing more money down a hole. Good question. Who wants warrants or preferred shares if the company is doomed anyway? What you're seeing take place are negotiated backstops between the US Government and pools of capital. A couple of examples:
The Big 3 may get a bailout. Financially the US taxpayer will get a stake - in what will surely be radically...
December 1, 2008
This week we look at a short but excellent summary of the state of the current economic crisis. I always enjoy reading David Rosenberg, the North American economist of Merrill Lynch. He has a no-nonsense style that is refreshing from most mainstream economists. The reality is that things continue to deteriorate. Today's stock market action shows that we are not of the bear market woods just yet. Rosenberg gives us a few reasons why.