August 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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  • Some Problems With Banks

    This week your Outside the Box offers two views, one from the US and one from Europe, both dealing with banks and financing. First, back in July, my friend Chris Whalen at Institutional Risk Analytics wrote an important comment about how the situation in the housing market is blocking efforts by the Fed to stabilize the US economy. IRA is a rating agency that follows every US bank and consults for a number of large commercial and governmental institutions on bank performance and risk.

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  • The Geopolitics of the United States, Part 1: The Inevitable Empire

    We all remember junior high geography (well, some of it, anyway). But somehow it didn't cover how critical geography is in the development of a nation... and that it is, for example, the primary reason the United States became a global power. The territory of the U.S. simply comprises all the right geographic elements to make its occupants an inevitable global force. Yesterday, STRATFOR, my favorite source for geopolitical analysis of world affairs, published The Inevitable Empire, part I of a fascinating assessment of the United States. In it you'll learn how geography shaped the nation's behavior throughout history, and what it means for U.S. foreign policy today. It's a perfect example of the kind of insight STRATFOR provides that you won't find anywhere else.

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  • Dynamic Economic Decision Making

    This week’s Outside the Box is from my good friend John Silvia, the Chief Economist at Wells Fargo and fishing buddy in Maine. He has written a powerhouse book called Dynamic Economic Decision Making: Strategies for Financial Risk, Capital Markets, and Monetary Policy.

    Combining three intellectual disciplines – economics, business, and decision making– that have traditionally been taught separately, Dynamic Economic Decision Making forges a new path that redefines how we view business choices. And that is the main point of the book. So many business leaders and investors make decisions based on static factors, historical patterns, or straight-line assumptions that it is no wonder that all too many bad decisions are made. And worse, we train our MBAs to approach decision making with outmoded tools that have proved themselves worthless in the real world.

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  • You Need This Dirty Word, Euro Bonds

    This week's Outside the Box is in the tradition of showing the other side of the argument. Normally, anything George Soros says or does politically has my blood pressure up about 20 points. Yet, I posted another piece of his today in Over My Shoulder – and then ran across this longer piece from Der Spiegel. Note this is from a dedicated Europhile wanting to save the euro. He succintly outlines what must be done if it is to be saved, and does it as well as anyone. (I know that among my readers there are both likers and haters of Soros, but as an observer of markets he is to be respected. And this is an article in which his acumen is in evidence.

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  • The Geopolitics of Brazil: An Emergent Power's Struggle with Geography

    Just last week in Thoughts from the Frontline, we discussed the relative valuations of emerging markets. Any discussion of an emerging market is incomplete without understanding the underlying geopolitical forces that guide behaviors of countries and often predetermine the outcome of events. Today I'm sending you STRATFOR's geopolitical analysis of Brazil, a much-discussed emerging market. This is a long read, but it's the most thorough and enlightening analysis I've seen thus far on how the continent's geography has shaped Brazil's history to date, and the major challenges the the country faces today. Hint: Brazil's biggest problems are an overvalued "real," Mercosur, and an Asian giant (you guess which one...).

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  • Breakfast with Dave

    The question we will ask ourselves in 20 years is, “Where were you when they downgraded the US and the Fed?” This week’s Outside the Box is from David Rosenberg. He has made his letter public and graciously given me permission (at 34,000 feet ) to send it to you.

    I thought about writing an immediate response to this weekend’s events but decided to wait and meditate on what has transpired. Clearly, we are at the beginning of the Endgame. And that saddens me. The events of the weekend were hotly discussed at the Shadow Fed meeting in Maine. My youngest son, Trey, was paying attention this year. Last night he said, “Dad, it is good for you that you are right with your book, but I don’t think it’s good for the rest of us.” Out of the mouths of babes.

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  • Entitlement Bandits

    This week’s Outside the Box is guaranteed to upset you. It is about Medicare fraud. Warning: it was written by a very conservative analyst and is “pro” the Ryan plan. I want you to read it not because I am trying to get you to support the Ryan plan but to get a handle on the size of Medicare and Medicaid fraud and just how easy it is to perpetrate.

    There may well be better ways than the Ryan plan as advocated here, but something must be done. Want to cut spending by $1 trillion in ten years? Eliminate the fraud. If American Express can hold fraud to 0.3%, maybe we should outsource our Medicare fraud detection to them. I say that only slightly tongue in cheek.

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