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.
It's been a hell of a few weeks, so let's start with a little much-needed levity. Two friends, a Trader and an Investor, walk up to the roulette wheel in a casino. They watch a guy hogging the table hit on his first spin. Then his second. Third, boom. Four in a row! The guy has an enormous stack of chips which he lets ride again on a fifth spin. 00. He's wiped out and skulks off to the bar.
The two friends are excited because now it's their turn. The Trader says he's going to follow exactly the same pattern as the guy they just watched, BUT he's going to pocket his money after four spins. The Investor tells him to hold off for a minute. He wants to first buy stock in the casino....
Like most good jokes, there's a kernel of truth. When everything is in turmoil, you can't focus on the instances; you have to focus on the underlying foundations. Roulette isn't about guessing red or black; it's about understanding statistics. Today in a Special Outside the Box, we look at some potential problems from Russia that could impact the US and Latin America. It comes from George Friedman's company, Stratfor, the source I rely on for my geopolitical analysis. Peter Zeihan is one of the very sharpest thinkers in George's shop, as you'll see. The basic definition of public capital markets in the US and Europe is fundamentally different than in a country like Russia. If you don't understand the geopolitical lens through which a state views its capital markets, then you're making roulette bets instead of investments.
George is kind enough to have a special offer on a Stratfor Membership for my readers. I encourage you to click here to take advantage of this opportunity. Whether it's energy, public equities, or debt, the world's markets are inextricably intertwined. And that means you've got to understand the lay of the land. No one does a better job of providing the geopolitical drivers behind "the statistics" than Stratfor.
As we search for "the" driver of financial markets, we look at all kinds of things. We pore over government statistics, company financial statements, and analyst research, trying to find that one nugget that will give us a glimpse of the future. Today, though, we're going to turn to literature. Because it's in Solzhenitsyn's vision of Mother Russia that we find an almost chillingly accurate roadmap of how Russia is likely to reemerge onto the global stage. When President Bush famously looked into Putin's eyes and saw his soul, what he saw - whether he knew it or not - was Solzhenitsyn's depiction of a true Russian leader.
Read this obituary essay from my friend George Friedman over at Stratfor. George puts Solzhenitsyn in historical context, using his life and writings to illustrate not just the evolution of the Russian/Soviet/Russian system but also the Western perception of Russia and what it says about future relations. It's uncannily ironic that Solzhenitsyn died just days before Russia forcefully punctuated its geopolitical prominence in going to war with Georgia. You can almost imagine Solzhenitsyn shrugging and asking, "What did you expect?" Over the Labor Day weekend, Russian President Medvedev used a press interview to lay out five points that will define Russian foreign policy going forward. Allow me to translate (loosely) from the Russian: "We're back."
You need to know where the West's relationship with Russia is heading. It's going to hit everything from energy prices to commodity markets to trade patterns. And nobody will do a better job of telling you where we're headed than Stratfor. When the war broke out, George's team was hours ahead of all the US media with situational awareness and analysis of what it meant. I strongly encourage you to click here for a special offer they make available to my readers. Included in this special offer is the latest in George's series of geopolitical monographs, on the Geopolitics of Russia. George is putting the final touches on it now, and I can assure you, this is something you simply don't want to miss.
"But this time it's different!!!" Any time you hear that from a financial analyst, you should run. Or better still, take the other side of his trade! If you're numerically oriented, you know that patterns tend to revert to the mean. If you're historically oriented, you know that the more things change, the more they remain the same. Can companies really make money selling a product for less than it costs to make - even in volume? Ask Buffett why he sat out the tech boom....
Today I'm passing along a piece from George Friedman, Chief Intelligence Officer at Stratfor. He makes the absolutely compelling argument that issues of war and peace follow these same guidelines. There are ebbs and flows, but war between countries is an inevitable part of history, and it's driven by simple geography. The recent war between Russia and Georgia was precisely such a "reversion to the mean," double-entendre fully intended.
Navigating financial markets requires an understanding of the geopolitical issues - the war & peace - that drive them. What does this war mean for Russian gas supplies to Europe? What does this war mean for the future of the BTC pipeline? Does this war make Iranian inclusion in global markets more or less likely? Is Russia just "vertically integrating" its control of energy flows with less-than-subtle tools?
You may have seen Stratfor quotations recently in the New York Times, Bloomberg, and Barron's. But personally I need more than just snippets. Quite simply, George's team is the best out there, and I encourage you to take advantage of the special offer that George makes available for my readers. The old Cold War is heating up, and this is no time to be without intelligence on what's coming next and analysis of what it means.
Read the analysis below and get a solid reminder that it's not different this time - or any other.
Kudos to my friend George Friedman and his crew at Stratfor. If you didn't see the article in this week's Barron's about Stratfor's analysis of the geopolitical risk premium built into oil prices, you missed a really good piece of work. You've probably heard Napoleon's quote that "Amateurs discuss strategy, and professionals discuss logistics." If you want a perfect example of how that quote plays out for the markets, take a look at Stratfor's article below. It's precisely the kind of sober, fundamental research that makes Stratfor my invaluable source for geopolitical intelligence.
No matter where you're looking at putting your money today, the impact of energy prices simply can't be overstated. The commodities trade, US and foreign equities, debt and interest rates, everything is being driven by energy prices right now. Whether you're trying to factor energy as a direct input into the price and consumption of manufactured goods or dealing with monetary policy's impact on the dollar and debt markets, you're implicitly making an energy trade.
I've said it before and I'll say it again, if you're trying to trade today's markets without geopolitical intelligence, it's like trying to trade the juice futures market without a weather forecast. You can do it, but good luck to you.
George has kindly passed me the article that was the basis of the Barron's story. You'll notice right away that unlike many of the so-called experts out there, Stratfor doesn't airily dismiss underlying logistics in favor of handwaving. But better than taking my word for it, click here to get your own Stratfor Membership at the discounted rate for my readers. Every day you'll receive the same forecasts and intelligence guidance that I use to shape my thinking on where the world is going - and especially on energy prices.
For nearly 30 years, long before it was a charter member of the "Axis of Evil," Iran and the US have been locked in a hate-hate relationship. Walk down the street any Friday afternoon, and you're as likely to hear "Death to America!" as "Hi Ali, how are you?" Three decades of animosity, an externally opaque society, and no trade relations between the two countries mean that many of us have just the barest understanding of what's really going on over there. But whether it's a negotiated settlement with the US over Iraq, or a war-risk premium for crude oil, to threats and counterthreats with Israel and the US, Iran's decisions have enormous impact on the global economic system. All of the sudden, the picture of the "mad mullahs" you get from the papers seems expensively inadequate.
To understand Iran's impact on the world you need someone that wades through the complexities and distills out the salient facts. My friend George Friedman and his intelligence team at Stratfor are my go-to source for this kind of insight and understanding. For your financial analyses (I certainly hope!) you don't rely just on your daily newspaper's business section; if that's where you're getting your news on global events, well, hmmm....
Take a look at George's latest Geopolitical Monograph on Iran in the Special Edition of Outside the Box. This is part of a special series for Stratfor Members only - that George was kind enough to share this week. It's just stunning to me how the battles between Persia and Babylon are playing out yet again with Iranian involvement in Iraq. If you've ever wondered why the Iranians seem to have a bunker mentality, read this Monograph, and you'll see why. Want to understand why Iran works through proxies like Hezbollah? Here's your answer. Spend a few minutes on an invaluable investment in understanding Iran's global role.
The Geopolitical Monograph series is just one of the features of my Stratfor Membership that makes it so valuable to me. George's team also puts out daily analyses and a weekly Intelligence Guidance that highlight the critical geopolitical events that can move markets. You can get the same geopolitical intelligence I use via this special offer available to my readers. Click here for the full details, and start adding an intelligence perspective to your investing.
As we begin the new quarter, now is an excellent time to take stock of your basic investment thesis. Ask yourself if your allocations still reflect what you think the world is going to look like over the next several months. And as part of that process, I'm here to tell you that making "financial" decisions based solely on "financial" inputs grossly oversimplifies the way the world really works. As I've said before, investing in debt, equity, or commodity markets without geopolitical intelligence is like trading juice futures without getting a weather forecast. You can do it, but good luck to you.
I get my geopolitical intelligence from Stratfor. My friend George Friedman and his team have just published their 3rd Quarter Forecast. I got George to give me a copy I can share with you in this Special Edition of Outside the Box. As a Stratfor Member, you can get the 3Q Forecast - as well as their other forecasts and daily analyses - at a preferential rate available to my readers by clicking here. I strongly encourage you to add this valuable weapon to your investing arsenal.
Here are just some quick examples of how I use Stratfor to guide my thinking, in these cases on energy prices:
- Just living in Dallas, I'm pretty familiar with rig counts and EIA inventory numbers, but I confess that the power-sharing negotiations between the Nigerian government and the Ijaw tribe aren't the most common lunchtime talk.... What will those talks mean for Nigerian supply figures?
- At first glance it's not obvious that the Olympics is supporting oil prices. But then you dig down and realize that China's showcase for global credibility requires lots and lots of smiling citizens. Lots and lots of smiling citizens requires plentiful and cheap fuel. Plentiful and cheap fuel requires government purchases/subsidies - at prices that may not be sustainable. So when the TV cameras go home, how much will the communist government keep paying out to maintain those smiles?
- And those Iranian missile tests that just spiked crude prices? Do those mean war is really coming, or are these the last-round raises, before the US and Iran reach a settlement on Iraq?
There are no simple answers here. No price targets or earnings estimates to the penny. But gentle reader, that's the real world. Today's markets require hard thinking on a whole range of fronts, with geopolitics being right at the top of the list. Join Stratfor today, and you'll get the same intelligence I use to map out where I think the markets are going. And enjoy this Forecast...
This week I want to share with you one of the more important tools in my arsenal for keeping up with what is going on in the world. As I've told you before, George Friedman and his team at Stratfor are my go-to guys for geopolitical intelligence. Their insights into this facet of the world are simply without peer. Now I want you to see their Intelligence Guidance which they publish each Friday for the upcoming week; last week's edition is below.
The Intelligence Guidance is an internal document that guides their intelligence team for the upcoming week. It's not a forecast of what's going to happen (more on that in a minute) but a list of potential inflection points that bear close scrutiny. On a short term basis, these are the critical items that can move policy in one direction or another. I put this side-by-side with my calendar of Fed meetings, statistics releases, and earnings announcements to get a holistic picture of what's going to be driving markets and plan tactics. I highly encourage you to click here for a Stratfor Membership, at special prices available to my readers, and add Stratfor's Intelligence Guidance to your weekly thinking.
Now about that forecast. Stratfor is just about to issue their third quarter forecast, and you definitely want to incorporate this thinking in your strategic planning. Stratfor's past calls on everything from the Asian currency meltdown to China's internal problems have proven to be eerily prescient. And I should point out that they also provide a scorecard that makes it very clear where their calls have been off, too. The Quarterly Forecast is included free as part of your Stratfor Membership, so click this link for the special deals available to my readers and make sure that you don't miss out on this important look ahead.
No matter where in the world I am, in South Africa, in Europe, in La Jolla, there's one question I get asked over and over, "What about China?" And small wonder. The increasing impact of China in the last generation is just staggering and seemingly accelerating every day. If you're in the market for oil, minerals, arable land, equities or debt, you're bidding against Chinese government-sponsored entities with a $1 trillion warchest. And the list of markets where China is a key player grows every day. Bottom line: whether you're filling up your gas tank or trading credit default swaps, China's decisions impact your pocket book.
The only thing that's crystal clear about China is the need to look long term, at the underlying forces that don't change day by day. Nobody does this better than my friend George Friedman and his team at Stratfor. Their geopolitical focus filters out the noise in the popular press and concentrates on the real drivers behind national policy. This is especially critical for a market like China, where traditional financial statement analysis is impossible and profit motives just don't apply.
On Monday, George and his team are releasing the second in their series of Geopolitical Monographs, called The Geopolitics of China. I've received an advance copy of the report below, and it is today's Special Edition of Outside the Box. Click this link to take advantage of a special pre-release offer on a Stratfor Membership that George is offering just to my readers. Did you know that China is functionally an island? Want to understand China's strategy behind their sovereign wealth funds? Policy in Tibet and Darfur? Join Stratfor now. You'll get a whole year of Stratfor's insights, plus you'll get The Geopolitics of China and their other Geopolitical Monographs included free. You really don't want to miss out on this opportunity.
Look at the map below that shows how China is functionally an island. Fascinating. It's just one of the maps George uses to illustrate what makes China, China. I hope you find this report intriguing, and do take George up on his offer for a free copy of the entire series included with your Stratfor Membership.
The greyhairs among us remember the Arab Oil Embargo in 1973 and that economists of the time called it an "exogenous" shock to the system. For the first time, geopolitical events had a huge impact on world energy markets. All the financial models in the world got thrown out the window when OPEC simply said, "We won't sell at any price."
Since then, of course, geopolitics has been an integral topic for everybody that follows energy markets. And other commodities. And currencies. And debt and equity. In other words, the economists' distinction between "market factors" and "geopolitical events" has blurred into meaninglessness.
In this Special Edition of Outside the Box, we read an analysis from my friend George Friedman at Stratfor that I think you'll find very interesting on the geopolitical implications of oil at $130/bbl. George and his team are calling the beginning of a new era of global competition. The weapons now won't be the nukes of the Cold War or the suicide bombers of the post-9/11 world but rather exportable oil and food, and the huge piles of cash that come from exporting surpluses.
As a special consideration for my readers, you can follow this link to get a special Stratfor Membership package that includes several free books. The Stratfor team puts out what I consider the absolute best available geopolitical analysis for global markets, and I strongly encourage you to take advantage of this special offer. If you want to know more about China's economic muscle - and the major threats to their industrial base - or how Russia will be able to reassert its power via grains and oil, you need to become a Stratfor Member.
This week we step outside the box of conventional geopolitical analysis to hear the thinking of George Friedman, founder and chief executive officer of Strategic Forecasting, Inc. (Stratfor), on the geopolitics of Israel. George makes the key point that Israel's geography has been fundamentally important to its geopolitical successes and limitations, and has lent a surprising continuity to its foreign policy from the Biblical era forward to the present day.
This is the first in a series of monographs by George on the geopolitics of countries that are currently critical in world affairs, and he has kindly let us have a preview.
George Friedman and Stratfor have long been my single best source for commentary on geopolitics. They identify trends and predict world-changing events in a way that is consistently ahead of the curve - and that has earned them worldwide respect. I see about 3-4 Stratfor letters each day, each with thoughtful analysis of both breaking global events and longer-term situations. I find the work they do to be of the highest quality and very useful as I think about how everything fits together in our rapidly changing world.
And finally, if you have not yet subscribed to Stratfor, then you should. They have some very favorable offers just for my readers, which you can access here: https://www.stratfor.com/campaign/biblical_and_modern_israeli_geopolitics_0
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.
Protecting the border is a big part of the presidential political debates. This week in a special edition of Outside the Box, my friends at Stratfor give us yet one more reason why we should be concerned when we look south. The topic not only concerns security, but our economy. The drug trade is becoming a problem. This is a short but very disturbing letter, but you should read it.
Stratfor continues to provide insightful and pertinent research on economic and geopolitical events and their respective ramifications. Stratfor continues to generously provide significant savings to readers of Outside the Box, for further information please click here. For those like me who seek objective analysis of world affairs, Stratfor is a daily necessity.
This week in our Special Outside the Box, George Friedman of Stratfor addresses what many believe to be the looming war with Iran, the potential wars' strategic futility, the underlying geopolitical implications, and the inherent threats that abound on account of Iran's defensive measures and offensive capabilities; the latter consisting of terrorist organizations that can harm US interests, be they domestic or foreign.
Stratfor continues to provide insightful and pertinent research on economic and geopolitical events and their respective ramifications. I depend on Stratfor to keep me abreast of such events and strongly recommend it to all wanting knowledgeable, reputable, analytical commentary discerning through the complexity of world affairs. Stratfor continues to generously provide significant savings to readers of Outside the Box who subscribe to their service, for further information please click here.
This week in the Special Outside the Box, good friend George Friedman addresses the lax governance and control of Blackwater, a private security firm recently embroiled in the accusation of firing upon Iraqi civilians without provocation. George shows us that private security contractors' working beside the military is not a recent mode of operation but rather one that has long been employed by the US military.
Furthermore, that private security firms serve a necessary role in US military operations and will continue to be a tool utilized in military operations throughout the world. Elsewhere, Stratfor notes that it is the Diplomatic Security Service that is usually responsible for the protection of diplomats. But there are only 1,400 of the officers world wide. You need more than that just for Iraq. We simply do not have the manpower to protect all the diplomats in Iraq and elsewhere without private contractors. It is just a fact of life. But as George notes, they are not in the chain of command. Resolving this is very important, as you will read.
Stratfor continues to provide insightful and pertinent research on economic and geopolitical events and their respective ramifications. I depend on Stratfor to keep me abreast of such events and strongly recommend it to all wanting knowledgeable, reputable, analytical commentary discerning through the complexity of world affairs. Strafor continues to generously provide significant savings to readers of Outside the Box, for further information please click here.
This week in Outside the Box good friend George Friedman of Stratfor delves into that enigma that is Executive power and Presidential elections. George ventures to assess the current President in light of former Presidents, utilizing a methodical rubric of measure to analyze the capabilities of what in all perceptions is a lame duck President with respect to domestic influence and foreign perception. He also analyzed the presidential race. I found this a very interesting piece.
George's company Stratfor provides some insightful and comprehensive research on geopolitical events and global affairs. George continues to kindly provide my readers a discount to his normal subscription rates, obtained by clicking here.
I hope you find the article informative, providing a degree of inference into the current complex political landscape.
As the forth largest economy in the world, the rapid growth of Communist China' military, and economic prominence has both perplexed and intrigued the United States. Stratfor analyst Rodger Baker addresses the two primary economic concerns troubling Washington and Wall Street alike: the Chinese-U.S. trade imbalance, and the floatation of the renminbi, currently pegged at 7.8 Yuan to the dollar, though allowed to fluctuate 2-3%.
Washington has identified the currency dilemma as the primary obstacle to improved U.S.- Chinese relations, concluding that the removal of the currency peg will not only permit U.S. exports to be more competitive but also shrink the current trade imbalance.
This Stratfor piece is an insightful, objective assessment of our current underlying disputes and their respective political and economic origins, providing suggestive solutions that will permit a more intimate, beneficial, enlightened relationship with China.
George's company Stratfor provides some insightful and comprehensive research on geopolitical events and global affairs. He continues to be generous by offering my readers a discount to his normal subscription rates which can be obtained by clicking here.
I hope you find this article as insightful and enlightening as I have, providing a deeper look into a global relationship pertinent to our prominence and prosperity in the future.
This week's Special Edition of Outside the Box is written by Peter Zeihan and highlights the looming indecisiveness of Serbia's political parties. Going back over the past decade, Kosovo and Serbia used to be a couple of hotspots. While there is not any immediate turn of events, Serbia has been in a state of de facto policy that is beginning to build to a sort of tipping point for the country's leadership.
These Special Edition reports are provided courtesy of George Friedman and the rest of the team over at Stratfor. For those of you unfamiliar with Stratfor, the company provides strategic insight and analysis on geopolitical events and global affairs. George has set up a special program on his services for my readers. If you subscribe today, you can add a friend for free. That special deal can be obtained by clicking here.
My intention is that you will find these Special Editions of Outside the Box to be valuable in forming a world view of what's taking place across the globe and to be of help when making investment decisions.
This week's special edition of Outside the Box is on the looming question of who will become the new leadership in Russia come March of 2008. The country is in a bit of unrest as groups of political activists on multiple fronts recognize an opportunity for a shift of power. I find this Stratfor article to be very relevant in light of the recent death of the former Russian leader Boris Yeltsin.
For those of you unfamiliar with Stratfor, the company is a sort of "private CIA" that provides global intelligence reports and information updates on world affairs. Stratfor's President is George Friedman, and being a good friend of mine, he continues to generously offer my readers a special discount on his normal subscription rates. If you are interested in more geopolitical reports and analysis, you can check out more about Stratfor and obtain the discount by clicking here. This week they are making a special offer. You can get a friend, business associate or family member their own subscription for just $100 when you buy a subscription for yourself.
I trust that you will enjoy Stratfor's information and continue to find it valuable in forming a global investment outlook.
In this week's Special Edition of Outside the Box, Stratfor President George Friedman discusses the historical role of the U.S. Navy over the course of previous conflicts as well as what type of a role it might play in the future. Just as in economics, a military is forced to make decisions based on an almost infinite number of situations while dealing with a finite amount of resources. Increasing the allocation of resources to one military branch will correspondingly decrease the amount of resources to other branches and initiatives.
George and I are good friends, and thus he continues to generously offer my readers a special discount on his normal subscription rates. If you are interested in more geopolitical reports and analysis, you can check out more about Stratfor and obtain the discount by clicking here.
I trust that you will enjoy George's commentary and may you have a pleasant remainder of the week.