In the wake of the newly appointed heir to the North Korean dictatorship position, I've been thinking about the 'cult of personality'. Traditional reporting will often focus on the personality of leaders or, in the case of democracy, the details of leaders' interactions. While it's interesting to think about, some would call it one-sided, even topical. When I've got investments on the line, those are two words I don't want to describe my research.
The decisions of a single personality seem unreliable. But when you look deeper, you can see that most nations and even leaders with personality are forced to make decisions in a reliably logical fashion. What may seem like a broad spectrum of choices when examined carefully are actually just one or two logical ones. The personality of the leader is of much less consequence than the nation's geopolitics.
For a full understanding of this analytical approach, which is very much applicable in the finance world, get to know STRATFOR, a global intelligence company founded by my friend George Friedman. Read George's report below on U.S. options in Afghanistan, and << click here to sign up for their free weekly intelligence reports>>.
I send you Outside the Box each week not to make you comfortable but to make you think. Usually it is on some financial topic, but life is more than investments. Economics is not an isolated discipline (more like an art form I think) so we have to have a real understanding of the world around us. This week I offer two essays which made me both think and reflect. We live in a world which wants easy solutions to complex problems, and wish as we may, will not get easy solutions which will work.
The first essay is by Pewter Huber on the reality of energy production. We all want to be able to "go green." How realistic is that? The second is by my friend George Friedman on torture and US intelligence failures.
Peter Huber is a Manhattan Institute senior fellow and the coauthor, most recently, of The Bottomless Well. His article develops arguments that he made in an Intelligence Squared U.S. debate in January. George is well known to OTB readers. He is president of Stratfor and was with the CIA (as was his wife Meredith) before they founded Stratfor, what I think of as the premier private intelligence agency in the world.
I suggest you put on your thinking caps and take some time to read both of these very important essays, and enjoy your week. I am off to Orlando and the CFA conference.
In times of crisis, those with psychological fortitude discover opportunities that most people miss. A friend of mine in Houston tells me of unending piles of tree limbs broken down by the hurricane. The homeowner laments his disaster; the tree trimmer and the roofer order a new Mercedes. Most of the world sees a Wall St. meltdown. Buffett takes the opening to deploy billions from his cash hoard. They're all seeing the same thing, but they're reacting differently based on different visions of the future.
I've included a piece today from my friend George Friedman over at Stratfor about the landscape the next US President will face. This article is a perfect example of why I rely on Stratfor for my geopolitical intelligence. The newspapers and other media do better or lesser jobs of telling me about what's happening right now. But that's not what an investor needs. What I need - and I recommend for you - is an analysis of what we're going to be facing. That's where George and his team absolutely excel.
For at least the next month, the public conversation is going to be completely dominated by the November election and the political maneuvering to address the financial crisis. There will be tremendous drama. There will be dizzying swings back and forth in emotions, expectations, and more than likely the markets. And if you focus on it, you'll miss the real opportunities to position yourself for the emergence. George has made a special offer on a Stratfor Membership available to my readers, and I strongly encourage you to click here to take advantage of this opportunity. Now is the time to get positioned for future opportunities, while everybody else is wallowing in the here and now.
I hope you enjoy this special edition of Outside the Box from my friend George Friedman and his team at Stratfor. He talks about the "good war" in Afghanistan and why in some ways it is far more difficult than the war in Iraq. This is a view that is quite different from what we read in the mainstream media. It highlights Stratfor's geopolitical intelligence capabilities. Trying to trade global markets - and now all markets are global - without an understanding of geopolitics is like trying to trade juice futures without a weather forecaster. You can do it - but good luck.
If you've been reading the special Outside the Box letters for a while, you know that George has offered a special rate to my readers. To celebrate the pre-release of his new book (as well as an absolute page-turner from his colleague Fred Burton), he's offering my readers even better deals on a Stratfor Memberhip - that include autographed books. The roads of the world are going to be full of potholes for a while - that's just the way it is - but if you want a map of where the road is going, click here to read George's work.
I'm hardly alone in considering Stratfor's geopolitical intelligence to be the best private sector intelligence product in the world. I rely on Stratfor's work to help me shape my perspectives about where the world is going and how I can exploit opportunities. I hope you click here to take advantage of George's very kind offer.