July 2011 - John Mauldin's Outside the Box

John Mauldin reads hundreds of articles, reports, books, newsletters, etc. and each week he brings one essay from another analyst that should stimulate your thinking. John will not agree with all the essays, and some will make us uncomfortable, but the varied subject matter will offer thoughtful analysis that will challenge our minds to think Outside The Box.

John Mauldin's Outside the Box

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  • Germany's Choice: Part 2

    For today's special edition OTB, let's turn our fiscal eye across the pond to all that's going haywire in Europe. But not the continent's banking crisis, per se. Today's piece takes a broad look at who's really running the show. I'll give you a hint - they've done it before, and it wasn't too long ago. The folks at STRATFOR (a global intelligence publication) have spent the better part of two years saying that Germany will run Europe. The newly redesigned EFSF (European Financial Security Facility) can be considered concrete evidence of such.

    From Berlin's point of view, the Eurozone is its sphere of influence, and its preservation is in Germany's national security interest. It's a new Europe, where Germany's not just the checkbook anymore, but holds some reins.

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  • Converging On The Horizon

    This week’s Outside the Box is with an old friend to long-time readers, Ed Easterling of Crestmont Research. Ed is usually on the bullish side, but his research of late points to a few warning signs that say some cycle convergences may be pointing to problems. And that coincides with my macro concerns. As usual, lots of charts and data, but easy to read and understand. And, for those with stock market investments, very thought-provoking and timely.

    I write this at 34,000 feet on the way back to Dallas. I met with a few Congressmen this morning and then ten Senators (!) this afternoon. It seems that some of them had read Endgame and rounded up a rather impressive group to come hear me speak for about 90 minutes. No Powerpoint, just off the cuff, with lots of very pointed questions, and they were taking notes (mostly). Some have been my long-time readers (go figure). It was bipartisan. Actually tripartisan, as independent Joe Lieberman was there, and asked some very hard questions. They cut me no slack and I gave no quarter. It was a very frank discussion. This is a group that is quite worried (I should say seriously worried) about our future, and they let me know there were more like them. On both sides of the aisle. It was actually somewhat encouraging, except that they are not optimistic. There was a sense of palpable concern that nothing might be done until we have a crisis, and so they realize the need to act. They are working to get their fellow Senators on board. Maybe there is hope. Without naming names, I was particularly impressed with the questions from a “Tea Party” Senator when I talked about the “glide-path option” and what going too fast would mean – as in a depression. I think he got it. We’ll see. He took the most notes, although Portman (who ran OMB so has a serious resumé and credibility on budgets) was going through paper rather fast as well.

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  • Three Competing Theories

    Long-time readers are familiar with the wisdom of Lacy Hunt. He is a regular feature of Outside the Box. He writes a quarterly piece for Hoisington Asset Management in Austin, and this is one of his better ones. Read it twice.

    “While the massive budget deficits and the buildup of federal debt, if not addressed, may someday result in a substantial increase in interest rates, that day is not at hand. The U.S. economy is too fragile to sustain higher interest rates except for interim, transitory periods that have been recurring in recent years. As it stands, deflation is our largest concern …”

    As I write, Europe is starting to unravel. This is going to be much worse than 2008, at least as far as Europe is concerned, and odds are high that it will be very bad for the US. And the markets are still acting as if the problems in Europe can be resolved. The recent bank stress tests were a joke, as they assumed no Greek or Irish defaults. This simply can’t be. There is a banking crisis of massive proportions in our future.

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  • China Security Memo: Looking into 'Reverse Mergers' on Wall Street

    The saying goes that you can learn something new every day. If you're paying attention that is - and more importantly if you know where to look. Today I was getting my morning fill of geopolitical intel from my friends over at STRATFOR (on everything from personal security to country economic profiles) and stumbled onto their weekly China Security Memo, this particular edition on Looking into Reverse Mergers on Wall Street. Is this another head-scratcher in the less-than-conventional foreign policy coming from China or a regulatory end-around by some enterprising Chinese companies?  Take a few minutes to read this report, which also goes through everything that happened in China this week that matters.

    This article discusses the SEC's ongoing investigation of the "reverse mergers" where questionable Chinese auditing allowed companies to list on U.S. stock exchanges despite their fraudulent accounts. The report is a superb example of the detail and insight STRATFOR gives its customers. If you're into the idea of learning something new on a daily basis (the desire grows with age, I believe...) you'll enjoy learning about the current state of Chinese regulations (or lack thereof) for companies that list on US stock markets, State-Owned Enterprises (SOEs) that compete with American businesses, recent bank robberies, tensions with the Catholic church, and bottled water contaminated with E.coli. In other words, you'll definitely meet your novel knowledge quota for the day, all while getting the deepest insight on the security situation in China.

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