This week I offer you two short pieces for your Outside the Box Reading Pleasure. The first is from my friends at GaveKal and is part of their daily letter. They address the real difference between those who think we will have a consumer led recovery (Keynesian) and those who think we will have a corporate profit led recovery (classical economics or Schumpeterian). This is actually a very important debate and distinction. I find that GaveKal pushes me to think almost more than any other group, as they constantly challenge my assumptions. (www.gavekal.com)
The second piece comes from Dr. John Hussman of Hussman Funds (www.hussmanfunds.com). He offers us some very insightful analysis on the potential for growth going forward, which goes along with what I have been writing: We are in for a longer period of below trend growth, which does not bode well for corporate profits in the long run. I think you will get a lot out of these two items.
This week I offer something unusual for outside the Box, in that I agree on almost all points with my friend David Rosenberg, except he tells it so much better than your humble analyst. David was the former Chief Economist at the former Merrill Lynch (ah, Mother Merrill, we barely knew ye.) and is now Chief Economist at Gluskin Sheff + Associates Inc., which is one of Canada's pre-eminent wealth management firms. Founded in 1984, they manage $4.4 billion. (For those who wonder, David left NYS to return home to Toronto. Much shorter commute time.) David looks at the recent stock market run-up, why he likes corporate bonds better than stocks, what is lagging with the consumer and a lot more. It is a very pithy read.
Have a good week, I am off to a beach in a few days, but there will be an e-letter this Friday. You are in good hands.
Your looking forward to reading with drinks with little umbrellas analyst,
Nearly everyone I talk with has the sense that we are at some critical point in our economic and national paths, not just in the US but in the world. One path will lead us back to relative growth and another set of choices leads us down a path which will put a very real drag on economic growth and recovery. For most of us, there is very little we can do (besides vote and lobby) about the actual choices. What we can do is adjust our personal portfolios to be synchronized with the direction of the economy. The question is "What will that direction be?"
Today we are going to look at what I think is a very clear roadmap given to us by Dr. Woody Brock, the head of Strategic Economic Decisions and one of the smartest analysts I have come in contact with over the years. This week's Outside the Box is his recent essay, "The End Games Draws Nigh." For those who have the contacts in government, I urge you to put this piece into the correct hands so that Woody's very distinct message gets out. I think this is one of the most important Outside the Box letters I have sent out.
Woody normally does not allow his work to go beyond the circles of his clients, but I suggested to him that this piece was quite macro in cope and important for both individuals and policy makers everywhere to understand. In my own simple terms, trees cannot grow in some unlimited manner to the sky. Families cannot grow debt without limit beyond the growth of their incomes. And countries have the same constraints. While growth of debt in the short term is viable, growth of debt faster than the growth of GDP is not viable over the long run. This is not debatable. It is a simple fact. Therefore, as Woody says, it is important that you get the growth side of the equation right as you increase the debt side. Without the proper balance, you are heading for disaster.
From his intro:
"We weave these three concepts together so as to make possible an extension and generalization of "macroeconomic policy" as normally understood. Central to this extension is the need for policies that drive down the nation's Debt-to-GDP Ratio over time. Accordingly, we identify 15 policies that jointly reduce the growth of federal debt and increase the growth of GDP over time. Doing so not only points to a new set of policies for exiting today's quagmire, but also permits an appraisal of the Obama administration's current policy proposals. Regrettably these proposals do not fare well with respect to growth. Furthermore, the extension of macroeconomics we propose applies not only to the US economy, but to most all others as well. It should thus be of interest to readers everywhere."
This is longer than the usual Outside the Box, and will require you to put on your thinking cap. But you need to digest this, and especially the conclusions. But it is very important that you understand the principles and concepts Woody discusses. We are at a very critical juncture, and the paths we choose will have profound impacts on our lives and fortunes. I cannot overemphasize the point. If we choose a path of growing debt faster than we can grow GDP, the negative implications for many traditional asset classes are enormous.
Let me again thank Woody for allowing me to send this on to you. And for those who post this letter on various sites, just be sure to include a link to Woody's website, www.sedinc.com. For those interested in his subscription service you can contact Woody at email@example.com or visit his website.
After a great holiday weekend, I hope that everybody is enjoying the recurring challenge of finding new ways to creatively eat turkey leftovers. For today's "Outside the Box," we turn our attention towards an interesting piece by Bill Gross on the changing investment landscape over the next decade. In his article "Alpha/Beta Anemia," Bill discusses his outlook for several asset classes and explains their implications on risk premiums in the marketplace.
Bill is a Managing Director at PIMCO where he has become regarded as the most prominent figure in the fixed income sector. He serves at the helm of the largest bond fund in the world, the PIMCO Total Return Fund. In the 90's he penned 2 books on investing: Everything You've Heard About Investing Is Wrong! and Bill Gross on Investing.
May you have a pleasant week and find this reading to be valuable to your financial education.
I am excited to present to you today a very interesting piece by my good friend and local Dallas resident, Ed Easterling. Ed has performed an in-depth study on how several key fundamentals have performed over time and how they are likely to perform over the next several years. His analysis shows how EPS and corporate profit margins have correlated to the business cycle dating all the way back to 1950. I find his study to be very insightful and dead on in the midst of the current market climate.
For those of you unfamiliar with Ed and his work, he is the author of Unexpected Returns: Understanding Secular Stock market Cycles and President of an investment management firm. In addition, Ed is a member of the adjunct faculty at SMU's Cox School of Business where he teaches a course on alternative investments and hedge funds for MBA students. Mr. Easterling is most known for publishing provocative research on the financial markets which can be viewed at www.CrestmontResearch.com.
I trust that you will find his "Beyond the Horizon" to be very compelling research and an "outside the box" point of view. May you enjoy!
Today's "Outside the Box" will be a combination of 2 different writings. The 1st is an email that I received from Research Affiliates Chairman Rob Arnott in response to my letter last Friday, "Honey, I Created a Bubble." The 2nd is the latest article by the well-known fund manager, John Hussman. Upon reading both commentaries, I was struck by the similarity between the two. It behooves us to pay attention when two very intelligent gentlemen that both actively (and successfully!) manage billions of dollars are marching to the beat of the same drum.
For those of you who are unfamiliar with Rob and John, let me say that both have stellar credentials. Rob is Chairman of Research Affiliates where he manages a multi-billion fund for PIMCO. In addition, he is editor of the Financial Analysts Journal and creator of a new index fund concept. John is the President of Hussman Investment Trust where he manages the Hussman Strategic Total Return Fund - HSTRX and the Hussman Strategic Growth Fund - HSGFX.
In their commentaries below, both Rob and John take a look at what inflation and bond yields mean for the market. I strongly recommend that you read each piece thoroughly and hope that you will find them to be "outside the box."