Thoughts From the Frontline, December 2007

Pop Go the Bubbles

December 21, 2007

Consumer spending was much stronger than thought in November, yet Circuit City Stores Inc., Best Buy Co. and other retailers that warned of a slump in purchases. A private report today showed consumer confidence slid to the lowest level in more than two years in December. The stock market chooses to see all things bullish, and so it powers ever upward. This week we take a brief look at the consumer, recent "shock and awe" central bank actions, money supply and more, trying to see how it all...

Things That Go Bump in the Night

December 14, 2007

From ghoulies and ghosties
And long-leggedy beasties
And things that go bump in the night,
Good Lord, deliver us!

-Traditional Scottish Prayer

It's been a long time since we have looked in my worry closet, but there are definitely bumping sounds coming from behind the door. While largely over-looked, Bank of America closed down an "enhanced cash" fund and did the unthinkable and broke the buck. But the real story is even worse. I make the suggestion that you look at your cash funds and see...

Black Swans and Endogenous Uncertainty

December 7, 2007

How does the risk of default in California or Thailand get spread throughout the world, causing problem in money market funds in Europe and Florida? Yes, we can trace the linkages now, but was it possible to predict the crisis beforehand? And can we use what we learn to predict and hopefully hedge ourselves from the next crisis? Why do these things seem to be happening with more frequency? This week we are going to look at some economic theories which will give us some insight into the above...