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.
This week in a Special Outside the Box we look at the discussion of alternative energy sources, specifically, ethanol derived from corn or sugarcane. The Stratfor piece discusses the economic implications of ethanol usage; geopolitical ramifications in terms of how current oil producers will be affected, comparable cost advantages between corn and sugarcane processing, and the advantages and disadvantages of ethanol production and consumption.
OPEC has expressed concern over capital allocated to alternative energy research, suggesting, implicitly threatening, that oil producers may be driven to lessen investment in vital infrastructure leading to supply constraints in the future and higher oil prices. If the assertions emanating from Brazilian government-funded researchers are confirmed to be true, the viability and time frame in which ethanol usage becomes economically feasible has made great strides, and shortened, respectively.
This Stratfor piece is an objective, thought provoking assessment of technology that will have drastic implications on our global economic and geopolitical landscape. Stratfor continues to provide insightful and pertinent research on economic and geopolitical events and their respective ramifications. Stratfor continues to provide significant savings to readers of Outside the Box, for further information please click here.
I hope you find this article enlightening and thought provoking as we continue to address the implications of alternative energy resources.
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.
I probably get as many questions about gold as I do any subject. The fascination with the yellow metal permeates all levels of investors, and opinions can be quite strong. But few are more informed than those of good friend and trader extraordinaire, Greg Weldon.
Greg has written a new book called "Gold Trading Boot Camp, how to Master the Basics and Become a Successful Commodities Investor." I highly recommend it for those wanting to get a grasp of how a successful trader's mind works. Greg is one of the best and maybe the most prolific commentators on market trends. Up well before dawn each day, he is a machine. Each day he produces 15-20 pages of in-depth commentary on a huge variety of topics, both fundamental and technical, that informs some of the top trading desks in the world.
I asked him to give us some idea of what his book is about and then give us a top down view of the market for gold as it stands today. For those of you who follow gold, or are merely curious, I think you will find this fascinating.
You can get the book at Amazon.com. It is very readable. Greg has an effortless, unique style that is fun, fast-paced and easy to comprehend with not a lot of technical jargon to make it hard for the beginner yet enough insights that the professionals will be taking lots of notes.
Get the book and enjoy this week's Outside the Box.
This week's special edition of Outside the Box touches on the strained relationship between the U.S. and Iran as the war in Iraq continues to loom. Bush is nearing the end of his tenure as President and is (as well as has been) seeking a solution for America's involvement in the Middle East. Diplomats from each country recently met up to begin discussion on the subject.
In his article "Two Busted Flushes: The U.S. and Iranian Negotiations," Stratfor President George Friedman discusses the U.S. / Iran relationship as well as the potential roles of other major world powers like Russia. He goes on to explain the agendas of both governments followed by some possible scenarios that may begin to play out soon.
For those of you unfamiliar with George's company Stratfor, they are a leading information and analytics agency on geopolitical affairs. Kind of what I like to label as a "private CIA" of sorts. George has continued to offer my readers a special discount on his service that can be obtained by clicking through the following link: https://www.stratfor.com/offers/061130-50OFFa/?ref=061130-50OFFa
My hope is that you will continue to find these special editions of Outside the Box to be both a comprehensive and enlightening view on global affairs and geopolitical events.
I got a lot of response from my recent letter on South Africa. Today we turn to another emerging market country. Since the late 90's, what country's equity market has performed the best? At first thought, many might say China or India due to the robust economic growth that has taken place. Still others might weigh in with countries such as Brazil or Dubai because of their booming commodities and tourism sectors, respectively. The answer is Russia with it boasting a 37 fold increase since 1998!
Every few months I get a lengthy but very thorough and enlightening newsletter from Eric Kraus called "Truth and Beauty" about the Russian economy and markets. Eric works in the finance industry and is an accomplished money manager. His writing reflects his positive views of the Russian markets along with a candid appraisal of the problems. But his writing on Russia is quite different from the views we get in the Western press. I asked him to give me a brief synopsis of his views for my readers. This is truly Outside the Box, and a balance to what we normally read.
If you want to subscribe to his letter, you can write Nadia@nikitsky.com and she will add you to his list.
Today's special edition Outside the Box discusses the long-term strategy that Russian President Vladimir Putin is setting in place. Stratfor President George Friedman has written an intriguing article on what he sees as some motives, opportunities and scenarios that the Russian leadership faces in a complex set of maneuvers involving the United States and the Middle East.
For those of you unfamiliar with Stratfor, it is the closest thing to a "private CIA" as the organization provides in-depth analysis on geopolitical events spanning the globe. George has continued to offer my readers a special 50% discount off his normal subscription rate. You can receive the offer by clicking here. I have used his service for my views on emerging markets as well as my personal curiosity of global affairs.
I hope you continue to find Stratfor's analysis to be both thought provoking and "outside the box."
Today's Special Edition of "Outside the Box" by my friends at Stratfor gives us a very insightful analysis or Russia, using the recent poisoning of a former Russian as a jumping off point. George Friedman, President of Stratfor, gives us an insider's view of what this means in light of historical Russian events and its current leadership. I must admit that I was initially expecting to be somewhat bored (yet another commentary on the spy poisoning?) but came away fascinated as George takes us inside the mindset of the leaders of Russia and how their system has evolved over time.
Stratfor is the closest thing to a "private CIA" as the organization provides in-depth analysis on geopolitical events spanning the globe. As always, George has decided to give my readers a special 50% discount off his normal subscription rate. You can receive the offer by clicking here. Current readers have just gotten his rather lengthy analysis of the current situation in Iraq as a special report. If you subscribe you will get that report as well.
If you're interested in the geopolitical status of Russia or maybe just want to stay up-to-date on current events of the world, I believe that you will find George's article to be both very insightful and thought provoking.