Thoughts From the Frontline, February 2008

Stagflation and the Fed

February 29, 2008

This week's topic was inspired by a discussion I had with George Friedman of Stratfor fame last night. He was suggesting the recession would be short and steep, and I of course think it is going to be shallow and with a long, protracted, and slow Muddle Through recovery. And it all hinges on how the Fed thinks about inflation.

There is considerable angst in the press about inflation and recession conspiring to bring us to a repeat of the 1970s woes of stagflation. And the economic data...

The Muddle Through Fed

February 22, 2008

This week the Fed offered us their forecasts for 2008-10 for the economy, inflation and employment. We will look at some of the details which I think will be of interest. Then we glance at some data on the savings rate which suggests consumer spending may be in for more of a challenge than many think. There is a lot of ground to cover.

But first, I just got a note from good friend Dr. Mike Roizen (of You the Owner's Manual, Oprah and at least a dozen #1 best-sellers fame), who has spoken at my...

What Would Warren Do?

February 15, 2008

It was only a few years ago that I use to sit down at this computer on Friday and wonder what I would write about. In today's environment, there is enough to write three e-letters and still leave interesting copy on the editing floor. Today we look at the rather disturbing developments in the municipal bond market, Warren Buffett's offer to "rescue" the tax-exempt insurers, and ponder what the resolution will be. We also look at corporate earnings, and note how they have been downgraded...

Consumers, Credit, and Complications

February 8, 2008

The evidence continues to mount that the US is in a recession. In this week's letter, we will look at the blind spot in the unemployment statistics, the continuing meltdown in the credit markets, and the simply awful service sector implosion in the ISM data, and then add a few thoughts on the housing market. There is a lot of data to cover, so this week's letter should be particularly interesting. The letter will print longer than normal, since there are lots of graphs.

But first, we are...

What Does a Recession Look Like?

February 1, 2008

What does a recession look like? How does it feel? What does it mean for your life and your investments? We explore these questions and more in this week's letter. I have been working on this letter all week, and think you will find it interesting.

But first, one interesting observation and a request for help on a fun project. Last week, I was in Europe. I walked across the street from my hotel in Geneva and was delighted to see a Starbucks. While I initially made fun of people who overpaid...