Thoughts From the Frontline, June 2008

The Slow Motion Recession Re-visited

June 27, 2008

"We appear to be entering a period of serious stagflation with sharply rising expected and actual inflation combined with large downside risks to growth and employment."

"I would argue that what we are seeing is an acceleration of expected consumer price inflation in the context of a sharp expansion in global liquidity. It is hardly surprising that the prices of those commodities, such as oil, for which the short-run price elasticities of supply and demand are low move upwards strongly when...

Warren Makes a Bet

June 20, 2008

The Sage of Omaha made a bet that was written up in a recent Fortune magazine article. Basically, Warren Buffett bet that the S&P 500 would outperform a group of funds of hedge funds over the next ten years. A million dollars to someone's favorite charity is on the line. This week we will analyze the bet, using it as a springboard to learn about valuation and value investing. As we will see, there are times that making a bet on the S&P 500 to outperform hedge funds (or bonds or real estate or...

Whip Inflation Now

June 13, 2008

President Nixon instated price controls on the 15th of August, 1971. Inflation was a little over 4% at the time. Price controls manifestly did not work (resulting in shortages of all sorts and a deep recession) and were rescinded a few years later. President Ford went to Congress with programs to fight inflation that was running closer to 10% in October of 1974, with a speech entitled "Whip Inflation Now" (WIN). He famously urged Americans to wear "WIN" buttons. That policy too was less than...

When Bubbles Collide

June 6, 2008

I remember in the summer of 2006 I would face my blank computer screen on a Friday and wonder, what I could write about? The media was all Goldilocks, all the time. Today, there is such a target-rich environment. I could probably write three letters a week, there is so much happening that is worthy of our attention. The problem today is trying to decide what not to write about, which means I get emails from readers wondering why I don't mention their areas of particular interest. But at eight...