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John Mauldin's Outside the Box

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  • Financial Markets, Politics, and the New Reality

    If you've been following my newsletter, you're familiar by now with my friend George Friedman and the geopolitical analysis company he founded, Stratfor. And if you've read any of George's work, you know that his entire methodology is based on the premise that the actions of leaders and nations are predictable. George starts with the constraints – what can they notdo, assuming they're rational actors – and moves forward from there. It's this methodology that allowed him to – in all seriousness and probably with an impressive amount of accuracy – write a book titled The Next 100 Years.

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  • The Unintended Empire

    A new year is almost upon us, so now seems like a perfect time to step back from the (many) crises at hand and take stock of the big picture. According to my friend & fellow thinker George Friedman, the big picture of the next 10 years is this: America will dominate, and the American president will have to figure out how to act as global emperor without admitting that's what he is.

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  • China's GDP and Questions of Strength

    Today I'd like us to think about sustainability. The Mayfly is a species of insect that goes from egg to death sometimes in as little as 30 minutes, and never more than a day. Take note, because as investors we have to be wary of the same rapid fluxes in economies. I'm of course speaking of the hype surrounding the Chinese economy lately. Everyone is talking about China this week, and rightfully so, as its GDP is nearing Japan's and could become the second largest in the world. But is it sustainable? Or a boom-and-bust similar to the Mayfly?

    I'm sending you an interview with a STRATFOR analyst who, unlike the hype, says China's economy is weak and unsustainable. Find out what indicators he's looking at by ««watching this video»». While you're at it, sign up to receive their free weekly intelligence reports. You'll enjoy the unique & global perspective.

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  • Mexico and the Failed State Revisited

    The United States' southern neighbors have always held a special interest for explorers. In particular Sir Walter Raleigh and his ill-fated quest for El Dorado comes to mind (I'm sure we can all relate). Modern day explorers, also known as investors, are still looking for the best place to stake their resources in search of riches. Thankfully, we have considerably more information at our disposal than a treasure map. But how do we know when X marks the spot, or if it's just another faulty lead?

    Intelligence, not just mass-produced information, is the key. For my global intelligence, I turn to the experts at STRATFOR. In this edition of 'Outside the Box', I've included a STRATFOR analysis on the situation in Mexico. It evaluates the drug wars in terms of the U.S. and Mexican economies. Give it a read and sign up for their free reports. You'll soon understand the value in intelligence, not just news.

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  • The International Economic Crisis and Stratfor's Methodology

    Exhale for a moment, forget your losses for the time being, and try to appreciate the fact that you're living through the single most important development in global finance since Bretton Woods. This is a "tell the grandkids about it" moment, when governments all around the world have essentially decided in unison that it's time to rewrite the rules, the very framework, in which financial transactions take place. Stock trading, interbank lending, commercial paper, the very concept of private sector ownership are all up in the air right now. The only thing I can tell you with certainty is that if you try to evaluate your investments using the same metrics you've always relied on - P/E ratios, market share, interest rates, etc. - you're going to be as successful as a football-turned-baseball coach evaluating a pitcher by the number of touchdowns he throws. The rules are changing, gentle reader, changing at least for awhile from market-driven inputs to government-driven inputs. If you try to apply what you know from the "old game" without understanding that you're playing a "new game," the rules might not make sense. I'm sending you today a piece from my friend George Friedman on how his company Stratfor looks at economics. More precisely, this piece explains how they look at Political Economy. And from here on out, it's political economy that's going to be driving markets. If the old rule was "Never fight the Fed." It's now, "Never fight the Fed. And the Treasury. And the ECB. And the Bank of England. And the Bank of Japan...." You get my point....