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    Outside the Box, May 2010

    Learning from the Bank of Dad

    May 24, 2010

    This week we visit an essay from an old friend of Outside the Box, Paul McCulley, the Managing Directpr of PIMCO. This is a speech he did at the Minsky Conference sponsored (I believe) by the Levy Institute. It was also the same speech he gave at my conference mid-April that was quite well received.

    Essentially Paul argues that the cause of the recent crisis was the creation of the Shadow Banking System outside the purview of regulation. And while he did not use the line in this speech, he did...

    Germany, Greece and Exiting the Eurozone

    May 20, 2010

    The cause célèbre these days is the potential reconstitution of the eurozone: ie, Germany leaving it, or Greece getting kicked out. To look a little deeper, today I'm sending you STRATFOR's take on these two scenarios. STRATFOR explores the geography of the continent and the historical context of the EU to understand what a German exit or a Greek expulsion might mean for the rest of the region.

    After you read the article, sign up here to receive more STRATFOR global intelligence reports like...

    The Commodities Con

    May 18, 2010

    A quick introduction for this week's Outside the Box. This is from my London Partner Niels Jensen, talking about the problems with long only commodity funds. This is something I discuss frequently but have not written about in some time. Quite simply, many of the commodity ETFs do not deliver what they promise and in fact many of the inverse funds can lose you money even when you make the right macro call.

    Niels gives us a very good explanation of why this is so. So for those of you who have...

    The Death of Capital

    May 10, 2010

    Was it only last week I was expressing outrage that US taxpayers would have to pick up the check for Greek profligacy in the form of IMF guarantees? This morning we wake to up the sound of $250 BILLION in IMF guarantees for a European rescue fund, most of which will go to countries that are eventually (in my opinion) going to default. That is $50 billion in US taxpayer guarantees. Not sure what that translates into for Britain or Canada or Australia.

    I can swallow the Fed dollar swaps to the...

    The Global Crisis of Legitimacy

    May 6, 2010

    From my friend George Friedman, founder & CEO of STRATFOR, here's my newest favorite quote concerning economic recessions: "Like forest fires, they are painful when they occur, yet without them, the forest could not survive. They impose discipline, punishing the reckless, rewarding the cautious." The thin line of where risky becomes reckless is something I'd like to focus us on today. No matter the risk-level of your portfolio, if you are reading this you are probably smart enough to know that...

    Was the Demise of the USSR a Negative Event?

    May 5, 2010

    Let's have a thought game. What if the Eurozone breaks up? My friend and very serious philosophical thinker Charles Gave (of GaveKal) thinks that would be a positive event. To quote his conclusion:

    "But we return to the most simple of questions, namely: Was the end of the USSR a negative event? When Americans stopped wasting capital building empty condos in Florida or Arizona, was that bad news? If, like us, our reader answers "no" to the above questions, then the Greek crisis should be seen...

    The Great Reflation

    May 3, 2010

    Let me start this week's Outside the Box by venting a little anger. It now looks like almost 30% of the Greek financing will come from the IMF, rather than just a small portion. And since 40% of the IMF is funded by US taxpayers, and that debt will be JUNIOR to current bond holders (if the rumors are true) I can't tell you how outraged that makes me.

    What that means is that US (and Canadian and British, etc.) tax payers will be giving money to Greece who will use a lot of it to roll over old...