Thoughts From the Frontline, November 2008

The Financial Fire Trucks Are Gathering

November 26, 2008

"It will therefore be crucial that you see the world anew. That means looking from the outside in to reanalyze much that you have probably taken for granted. This will enable you to come to an understanding. If you fail to transcend conventional thinking at a time when conventional thinking is losing touch with reality, then you will be more likely to fall prey to an epidemic of disorientation that lies ahead. Disorientation breeds mistakes that could threaten your business, your investments...

Leverage Is an 8 Letter Word

November 21, 2008

Leverage is an eight-letter word, which the markets now regard as twice as bad as the two four-letter words debt and pain (or fill in your own four-letter words). This week I try to give some insight into what is happening in the credit markets, some of it below the radar screen of most analysts. We will look at the potential for deflation and the Fed's response. There is a lot to cover, so let's jump right in.

I talked with a friend who runs a collateralized loan obligation fund, or...

The Economy Gets a Margin Call

November 15, 2008

As long-time readers know, my daughter Tiffani and I are interviewing millionaires for a book we will be writing called Eavesdropping on Millionaires. This has been one of the more personally impacting projects of my life, as the stories we hear are so very provocative. I hope we can transfer to readers of the book at least half of the impact we are personally experiencing. But at the end of each interview, we let the interviewee ask me questions. Often, they are along the line of "Do you...

The Problem With Deleveraging

November 7, 2008

In general, we consider it a good thing to save money and to "owe no man anything save love." But what happens when a debt-happy society wakes up and decides that saving is a good thing for everybody? What happens when banks and hedge funds decide (or are forced) to reduce their debt? What happens when businesses of all sizes find it harder to get loans to operate?

In this week's letter we discuss "The Great Unwind," that process of deleveraging that we are now in the midst of. We also explore...