Outside the Box, June 2017

Shale Oil: Another Layer of US Power

June 28, 2017

George Friedman and I have been talking regularly about pressing geopolitical issues for at least 10 years – it is a shared obsession. George and Meredith and Shane and I regularly try to get together, and sometime in August we will make our annual pilgrimage, wherein we spend a long weekend with my getting history lessons and geopolitical insights – and I try to share a little economics. I know no one else with George’s breadth and depth of insight into today’s world.

Right at the root of...

Secular Stagnation?

June 21, 2017

In today’s Outside the Box my good friend Charles Gave shares an instructive “Tale of Two Countries.” Since 1981 in the UK and France, structural growth rates have diverged: The rate has fallen by two-thirds in France, while in the UK it has risen. Why? Well, to begin with, in the UK Margaret Thatcher was elected prime minister in 1979 and almost at once reduced the role of the bureaucracy in managing economic activity and dialed back government spending as a percentage of GDP. Meanwhile, in...

Where’s My Productivity, Dude?

June 14, 2017

One of the true conundrums in the macroeconomic world is the continuing drop in total global productivity over the last few decades, in spite of the growing use of computers, robotics, and artificial intelligence. Theoretically, productivity should have gone up.

Professor and Nobel laureate Robert Gordon and others have speculated the GDP growth is going to decline to less than 1%, and they have all sorts of maps to back up their claim. I’ve taken issue with their reasoning, but they makes...

Finding High-Quality Companies Today

June 7, 2017

Last week in Outside the Box, Jim Mellon shared some good advice on picking stocks in the Age of the Index Fund. Jim said,

[C]ommitted investors should make a list of companies that they really like, know about, and want to own – at the right price. If the shares of those firms are too high, put in limits, possibly 20-30% below current levels, and wait. Don’t let cash burn a hole in your pocket – let the stocks come to you, and don’t chase.

Within a day of publishing Jim’s piece, my friend...