For whatever deeply embedded psychological reason – and your humble analyst is profoundly guilty – we humans seem prone to picking out a particular point in our space-time continuum (read: the New Year) to think about the future and new beginnings, rather than running the exercise every week or month. Maybe so much introspection and thinking is just too exhausting, so we only do it on an annual basis. I am deep in my reading as I research my annual forecast issue, which I will write Friday. I am thinking of being especially foolish (and anyone who makes predictions is foolish) and going out to a five-year time frame. It should be challenging.
But back to today. One of the most fun things I have read recently is from Grant Williams, who writes Things That Make You Go Hmmm... from Singapore. This year he has somehow managed to leap ahead on his own space-time continuum to share with us his December 2012 letter, where he looks back and discusses the year that was. While I will draw some different conclusions this Friday, Grant does make me think, and he is a fun read. I look forward to meeting him in a few weeks in Singapore.
Quick housekeeping note. Last week's letter had a link at the end to a page where the team from Boston Consulting Group gave their thoughts on how businesses should plan for various contingencies in 2012. The response was so large it blew up our server (!); so we have added bandwidth, and I'm ready to give you the link to "The Year(s) Ahead Report" again. It's http://www.johnmauldin.com/frontlinethoughts/the-years-ahead-report-0112 .
I am hard at work trying to clear the decks for 2012, as I do at the beginning of each year. I really should consider doing it more often, as it does help in organizing things; but then again, maybe we can only deal with so organization...? We humans are such complicated creatures.
In any event, let me wish you a wonderful start to 2012 (and if you are reading this in the Chinese translation, then here are early New Year's wishes for you! For my Western readers, Chinese New Year is January 23rd this year, and it's the Year of the Dragon.)
Your thinking of the paths to our future analyst,
Take a minute – and maybe a deep breath too – and imagine the markets at opening bell on a hypothetical morning when live video shows burning oil tankers in the Strait of Hormuz (through which 40% of the world's seaborne oil passes). Couple that with the already shaky state of the current global economy and you get ... well, what does chaos in a mosh pit look like?
Iran is back in the headlines, and once again behaving in a less-than-cooperative fashion regarding its nuclear enrichment program. After they've failed to deliver on promise after promise, it does not appear that Iran will come clean anytime soon, and definitely not in time for the IAEA (International Atomic Energy Agency) inspection report due out any day now.
So what are our options? This week I came across a report from my friends over at STRATFOR, a geopolitical intelligence company, that fully analyzes the situation. They were nice enough to let me share the full article with Outside the Box readers, so I don't want to give too much away here. All I'll say is that there are three factors deterring any form of action against Tehran, and one of them relates to the scenario I described above.
And if you'd like more than just the occasional report from STRATFOR via yours truly, I've finagled a nice discount on a STRATFOR subscription for my readers, plus a free copy of their book on Iran. >>Click here to find out more.<<
Your still grieving Rangers fan,
Today marks the first of a new series of special editions of "Outside the Box" that will feature the work of my good friends at Stratfor and be released every other Thursday. With the war in Iraq, geopolitical controversy over oil dependency, and an ever increasing merging towards a global economy, I feel it timelier than ever to stay up-to-date on the geopolitical landscape as it can have broad implications for both investment and political decision making. Contrary to many of the conflicting assessments by politically motivated pundits, each with their own agendas, that are put forth as "analysis," Stratfor is a reality based in-depth and logical intelligence service. As I have said in the past, Stratfor is my main and favorite source for geo-political news and analysis. They have often been referred to in the mainstream press as a 'private CIA,' but I would say in Stratfor's defense that they seem to be more right than their government counterpart.
George Friedman, President of Stratfor, has written an uncomfortable yet nonetheless important piece on America's vulnerability to North Korea and other foreign countries aside from Iraq. He discusses how the outcome in Iraq was much different than expected and how the repercussions will unfold into the future. As I mentioned, it is not a "feel good" article for U.S. citizens, however it is always important to embrace the cold, hard facts for effective decision making and successful investing.
You can click here to subscribe to Stratfor's Daily services at a 50% discount. I have arranged for those subscribing today to get their new 25 page quarterly predictions and analysis report, where they analyze each region of the world, highlighting specific countries where there are potential problems. It is a must read for me. I think you will find it quite useful.
I hope that you will enjoy this addition to the "Outside the Box" family and gain insight into how today's politics are shaping the future of the global economy.