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    Outside the Box, May 2012

    To the Class of 2012

    May 29, 2012

    It is the season when students all over the country are graduating and listening to graduation speeches. I have heard more than my share over the years. But never one like this week's Outside the Box essay, from my friend and world-class demographer Neil Howe. Neil was co-author of The Fourth Turning, which way back in 1997 absolutely nailed the coming generational changes we are now living through, giving us a fascinating and eerily accurate guide to our future. The premise is that a...

    One Nation (under Germany)

    May 22, 2012

    For this week's Outside the Box I want to share with you a singularly interesting conversation between Niall Ferguson and Ben Laurance, in the Sunday Times of London. What really grabbed me about it was the way Niall goes right out on a limb and yet makes such a convincing case that, when push really comes to shove, Germany will bite the federalist bullet, because it's overwhelmingly in their interest to maintain a united eurozone.

    "I am not a federalist," says Ferguson. "But the costs...

    China: Two Economic Models and the Ideological Divide in Chongqing

    May 17, 2012

    There are political sides in America ... and then there are political sides in the communist state of China. Here, it's a matter of the right and the left. In China, it's a matter of private enterprise and strong foreign investment versus highly centralized and debt-heavy state enterprise.

    According to the geopolitical analysis company Stratfor, the left may be losing ground in China, and Beijing may be headed down an economic path that focuses on private enterprise. If the trend becomes the...

    The Clash of Generations

    May 15, 2012

    There are plenty of books about the entitlement disaster in our future, but few come with the backing of an academic press. The Clash of Generations is an exception. Written by economist Larry Kotlikoff, one of the creators of generational accounting, and my good friend of long standing, Scott Burns, Clash shows what current policies have already done to young people, tells stories about how both parties have allowed it to happen, and offers actual policy solutions – for banking,...

    A Leaderless World

    May 8, 2012

    I recently had a chance to speak at a conference where Dr. Ian Bremmer spoke after me. I was very impressed with his thought process and asked him to give me an outline of his speech to share with you for this week's Outside the Box. It's a shorter version of his powerhouse book, Every Nation for Itself: Winners and Losers in a G-Zero World. I highly recommend it.

    And what, you're asking, is a "G-Zero world"? In a word, it's a leaderless world. A world in which, as Bremmer says, "Not so long...

    U.S. Consumers: Still Key to the Outlook

    May 1, 2012

    What I like most about Gary Shilling's economic analysis is that it's thorough. In the piece that follows – an excerpt from Gary's monthly INSIGHT – he ranges from the importance of US consumer spending and the unemployment rate, to the actions of the Fed, to business cost cutting and productivity, to the housing crisis and household debt, to state and local government fiscal issues, to US exports – Etc.! So by time he gets ready to deliver conclusions, you know they're well-supported. And...