November 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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  • It’s All Very Taxing

    Today's Outside the Box is something a little different for me. Howard Marks of Oaktree Capital Management has produced a most excellent summary of the problems inherent in "all things taxing" in the US. He delves into not only the specifics but also some of the philosophy of taxation. This is a balanced piece in which he tries to present all sides and arguments, giving us a very real picture of the dilemma we face, and leaving us to draw our own conclusions. Whatever we do going forward, including nothing, the outcome with regard to taxes is going to be difficult if not painful for most of us. We talk about everyone paying their fair share, but what does that mean? The answer is that it means very different things to different people.

    This goes hand in hand with my contention that we face very difficult choices, and none of them are pain-free. I have my preferred methods and choices, and you have yours, and your neighbors have yet more divergent views. But we must make the tough decisions, or the market is going to treat us as roughly as it is Italian debt. If we let it get to that point, the choices will be even more limited and painful.

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  • Syria, Iran, and the Balance of Power in the Middle East

    Let's peel our eyes away from the eurozone disaster momentarily and take a look at another crisis – one with just as much potential to impact our global financial system.

    As we've discussed in Outside the Box before, Iran's trump card is not its nuclear capability but rather its opportune location next to the very narrow, very important Strait of Hormuz ... through which no less than 40% of the world's seaborne oil passes.

    As the US leaves Iraq, Iran is ready and waiting to fill the void and extend its regional influence. So where's the next turf war? A shaky Syria, where the Iranian-Saudi-US balance of power will continue to play out.

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  • Simon Hunt November/December Economic Report

    I have been reading and talking with Simon Hunt for a long time. He is a very thoughtful Brit who spends a lot of time in China and thinks about copper and commodities and cycles. He has enough seasoning to have seen a few cycles himself. This piece summarizes rather well the view that he has expressed for some time. And while I am generally skeptical of relying too much on cycles for specifics (they work until they don't), I think Simon has some very powerful conclusions. From his summary:

    "The world is in a balance sheet depression which will make a second and perhaps more dangerous credit crisis almost inevitable. That should break out next year or in 2013.

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  • Things That Make You Go Hmmm…

    What do the “Big Fitz,” the largest ship ever to sail the Great Lakes, and the Eurozone have in common? Hint: the former sank without a trace. Or, as Grant Williams so eloquently puts it, in his Things That Make You Go Hmmm… for Nov. 13 (this week’s Outside the Box), “One can’t help but think … that this week may well have brought us to the wall at the end of the road down which Europe has been kicking the can for quite some time now.”

    Grant inspects the SS Europe from bow to stern and concludes: “The smoke has pretty much cleared now and those in charge of the SS Europe are left with a stark choice – print money or allow the break-up of the Eurozone and the end of the common currency known as the Euro. At this point it really IS that simple.”

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  • Iran’s Nuclear Program and its Nuclear Option

    Take a minute – and maybe a deep breath too – and imagine the markets at opening bell on a hypothetical morning when live video shows burning oil tankers in the Strait of Hormuz (through which 40% of the world's seaborne oil passes). Couple that with the already shaky state of the current global economy and you get ... well, what does chaos in a mosh pit look like?

    Iran is back in the headlines, and once again behaving in a less-than-cooperative fashion regarding its nuclear enrichment program. After they've failed to deliver on promise after promise, it does not appear that Iran will come clean anytime soon, and definitely not in time for the IAEA (International Atomic Energy Agency) inspection report due out any day now.

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  • It’s All Greek To Me

    Long-time readers will be familiar with Michael Lewitt, one of my favorite thinkers and analysts. He has gone off on his own to write his letter, and I am encouraging him to write even more. I call Michael a thinker because he really does. He reads a lot of thought-provoking tomes and then thinks about them. And then writes, making his readers think. The world needs more Michael Lewitts.

    Today, he roams the world, commenting as he goes, starting of course with Europe. I have permission to use the first half of this most recent letter as today’s Outside the Box, leaving off the investment recommendations that he shares with his subscribers. If you are interested you can subscribe at www.thecreditstrategist.com.

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