This week I bring you two different articles as an offering for Outside the Box. As a way to introduce the first, let me give you the quote from Merrill Lynch economist David Rosenberg about the rising threat of global trade protectionism:
"The Financial Times weighs in on the rising threat of global trade protectionism in today's Lex Column on page 14 ("Economic Patriotism"). The FT points out that the stimulus packages of many countries include "buy local" provisions. At home, there is a proposed inclusion of a 'Buy American' provision in the economic recovery package and this could set off trade retaliation from importers of US goods. Here is what the FT had to say, 'It was trade protectionism that made the 1930s Depression "Great". Congress would do well to understand that it is in everyone's interest to keep trade open today.'"
I have long written that the one thing that could derail my Muddle Through (at least eventually) view point is a return to trade protectionism. Nothing could be more devastating to the hopes of a recovery. Nothing could more surely turn a recession into a depression, and a global one at that.
David Kotok of Cumberland Advisors notes the very real problem with Tim Geithner's written testimony, threatening China and calling the manipulators, clearly making the point that this is Obama's policy. I did not have time to touch last Friday on the dangerous policy if it is that and not just rhetoric, but David says everything I would want to say and does it shortly and eloquently.
Second, several people requested a chance to look at the actual paper I cited in last week's Thoughts from the Frontline by Nouriel Roubini and Elisa Parisi-Capone of RGE Monitor (www.rgemonitor.com) on how they come up with an estimated potential loss of $3.6 trillion dollars in the US financial system. It makes for rather grim reading, but they go sector by sector to show where the losses are coming from.
Tomorrow I will hold my first "conversation" with Ed Easterling and Dr. Lacy Hunt. To find out more about how to listen in and still get the half price discount for the rest of this week at http://www.johnmauldin.com/conversations. Just enter the code JM44 when asked. Have a great week.
This week we look at a recent analysis from Professor Nouriel Roubini of the Stern School of Business at New York University. Nouriel has become known for his rather clear clarion calls that the housing bubble would lead to a credit crisis and possibly much worse. He has been one who has been on CNBC and was in the clear minority early last year, but now no one is laughing (I was once on the show with him, and we were not the majority view).
In this week's Outside the Box, Nouriel details for us how a worse case scenario would develop. We both hope this does not develop. It can be avoided, but realistic investors need to know what to look for to make sure we are not going there. I like Nouriel's work, as it pull's no punches. You can go to RGE Monitor at www.rgemonitor.com to see his regular work, which is geared to institutions. Like this letter, he offers Outside the Box analysis, which I think you will find useful.
Last week in my letter "Thoughts from the Frontline," I promised a more in-depth view into the housing market provided by the well respected Professor Nouriel Roubini. I also commented on how complexity theory plays into the markets with a culmination of individual events each contributing to a larger "finger of instability" that poses a recessionary threat. One such contributing variable is the U.S. housing market. This week's "Outside the Box" contains an excerpt from Mr. Roubini's blog. (This entry as well as his latest posts can be found at http://www.rgemonitor.com/blog/roubini)
Nouriel is a Professor of Economics at the Stern School of Business at New York University (see http://pages.stern.nyu.edu/~nroubini/ for his Stern homepage). His applied academic research includes seminal work in international macroeconomics, global macro policies, financial crises in emerging markets and their resolution, and the reform of the international financial architecture.
Mr. Roubini continues to take a non-consensus view on the markets which is why I believe that you will find his opinions to be truly "Outside the Box."