Browse by Tags

John Mauldin's Outside the Box

Blog Subscription Form

  • Email Notifications
    Go

Archives

  • The Next Decade: Where We've Been... And Where We're Going

    This week I'm sending you a real treat. My friend & geopolitical expert George Friedman has written a fascinating new book, The Next Decade: Where We've Been... And Where We're Going. His previous book, The Next 100 Years, hit the New York Times bestseller list, so it's not just his fishing buddies like me that think he's good.

    I've had the pleasure of reading a galley copy, and after a grueling arm-wrestling match, won the exclusive privilege of sending you the Author's Note and Introduction a few weeks before the book's release. The Author's Note will give you a sense of George & why he set out to write this book. The Introduction sets up this concept of the U.S. as an unintended empire (a striking phrase, but he backs it up well). You can view them both below.

    ...
  • Geopolitical Journey, Part VI: Ukraine

    This week’s article comes from my friend George Friedman, founder of the intelligence company STRATFOR. In this stop on his trip through the Black Sea Basin, he explores Ukraine, a borderland that separates Europe and Russia.

    Imagine your nation torn between two completely unique languages, cultures, political systems - between East and West. I've always considered Texas a borderland, so I relate to a home that stands between two different worlds. With a geopolitical eye, the article methodically analyzes the history, current events and catalysts for options Ukrainians have about their nation now. Yet George also lends a personal touch as his family hails from this tumultuous region. This is a longer, but very pleasurable read. You’ll get your dose of geopolitics while enjoying George’s mosaic writing style.

    ...
    Filed under: ,
  • Geopolitical Journey, Part I: The Traveler

    My friend and fishing buddy George Friedman travels as much as I do. Yet even when we visit the same place, it's like we're in two different countries. I see a river and think about fishing. George sees a river and explains a geographical reality that's shaped that nation's history. I read the menu at a gourmet restaurant and draw conclusions about my appetite; George observes what kind of shoes the children wear and draws conclusions about the country's future. No joke.

    George has developed a way to wield a geopolitical eye in worldly travels - and learn from it. He's currently traveling through key, but less-mentioned, countries of Eastern Europe, on a quest to understand how they see the Russian resurgence and what that means for America's options. He's using his travels to write a series for STRATFOR, a global intelligence company he founded. I've included the first piece of the series below.

    ...
  • U.S. Midterm Elections, Obama and Iran

    With midterm elections quickly approaching, the media is full of sordid details about candidates and good old-fashioned mudslinging. Few take a giant step back, and consequentially the high road, to recognize the big picture. As my friend George states in the piece below - whether we see overwhelming Republican victory or surprising Democratic saves next week, the end result is the same. Democrats will no longer hold a decisive majority, and any Republican majority will still face the presidential veto. Domestic politics are about to change.

    In the article, George - founder and CEO of STRATFOR, a global intelligence company - explores what President Obama's options are if he hopes to secure a second term. It's not a prediction of what Obama will do, but the options George presents are very, very interesting, and would have repercussions well beyond U.S. borders and 2012 elections.

    ...
  • China and the Future of Rare Earth Elements

    My internet went out today, and after chewing out my service provider for a good half-hour, I got to thinking about how we accomplished work in the good old days, before the age of information, when a mouse was just a furry varmint chased by cats. My thoughts snowballed, as they often do, and I began considering technology - the hard reality that makes the soft, virtual world possible. What is a laptop made of?

    In a miracle I can't begin to understand, my connection to the world wide web was resurrected. Upon making my routine visit to STRATFOR.com to check out their latest geopolitical analysis, I stumbled upon this article on China's reported manipulation of the market of rare earth elements--used in the production of everything from petroleum to laptops to hybrid cars to radar--and how that will affect everything from importing nations to industries to consumers in the next 2-5 years.

    ...
  • Pakistan and the U.S. Exit From Afghanistan

    In the wake of the newly appointed heir to the North Korean dictatorship position, I've been thinking about the 'cult of personality'. Traditional reporting will often focus on the personality of leaders or, in the case of democracy, the details of leaders' interactions. While it's interesting to think about, some would call it one-sided, even topical. When I've got investments on the line, those are two words I don't want to describe my research.

    The decisions of a single personality seem unreliable. But when you look deeper, you can see that most nations and even leaders with personality are forced to make decisions in a reliably logical fashion. What may seem like a broad spectrum of choices when examined carefully are actually just one or two logical ones. The personality of the leader is of much less consequence than the nation's geopolitics.

    ...
  • Looking to 2012: China's Next Generation of Leaders

    The Chinese have a bit of a challenge on their hands. One could reason that as the world's most populous country, China would also have the highest number of individuals living in poverty. However, I was shocked to learn that the number is over 600 million. Talk about a mess. If you do any sort of business, or just have a general interest in the Far East, I recommend you get a heads up on the leadership changes we'll see in the next year.

    Today I'm including an article and a video from STRATFOR, a global intelligence company. I watched the video first - it's an overview of China's new leadership and what that means for the next generation. If you want more analysis (which I definitely did), read the article below too. You'll learn about the deep structural reforms that may be required to prevent China's economy from overheating, as well as the rising influence of the military and how the new leaders will address the flaws in China's economic model.

    ...
  • 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.

    ...
  • Dispatch: China Factors in U.S.-South Korean Relations

    The key to being a great chess player is to think ahead. True grandmasters think ahead not by just one or two steps, but a full game. The key to winning is determining the most likely moves of your opponent, among what seem at first glance to be hundreds of possibilities. The same can be said of finance. Knowing what to expect from key world players is critical to investing.

    ...
  • Europe: The State of the Banking System

    In the last six months, the eurozone has faced its biggest economic challenge to date - one sparked by the Greek debt crisis which has migrated to the rest of the monetary union. But well before the sovereign debt crisis, Europe was facing a full-blown banking crisis that did not seem any closer to being resolved than when it began in late 2008. With investors and markets focused on European governments' debt problems, the banking issues have largely been ignored. However, the sovereign debt crisis and banking crisis have become intertwined and could feed off each other in the near future.

    ...
  • U.S.: The Afghanistan Strategy After McChrystal

    While the U.S. was celebrating its World Cup victory over Algeria, another struggle was playing out in Washington that also grabbed the world's attention. In that instance, the loser was Gen. Stanley McChrystal, who was forced by the president to resign his command of U.S. forces in Afghanistan.

    Since STRATFOR is more of an expert on geopolitics than the World Cup, I'm including an article from them on the current Gen. McChrystal shake-up. It's an example of the kind of behind-the-scenes intelligence reporting that makes them famous.

    ...
  • Flotillas and the Wars of Public Opinion

    This week, we've seen a barrage of news and opinion pieces on Israel's attack on the Turkish aid flotilla headed for the Gaza strip. In the midst of myriad media discussions concerning the moral and strategic angles, my friend George Friedman from STRATFOR brings up an interesting point: '[The Israelis] seem to think that the issue is whose logic is correct. But the issue actually is, whose logic will be heard?'

    George puts the entire situation into the perspective of a war of public perception, which gives us a much more accurate idea of what may come of all of this. Give his article a read, and then join STRATFOR's free email list to receive more intelligence of this sort--they will keep you in the know like no one else can.

    ...
  • Germany, Greece and Exiting the Eurozone

    The cause célèbre these days is the potential reconstitution of the eurozone: ie, Germany leaving it, or Greece getting kicked out. To look a little deeper, today I'm sending you STRATFOR's take on these two scenarios. STRATFOR explores the geography of the continent and the historical context of the EU to understand what a German exit or a Greek expulsion might mean for the rest of the region....
  • The Global Crisis of Legitimacy

    From my friend George Friedman, founder & CEO of STRATFOR, here's my newest favorite quote concerning economic recessions: 'Like forest fires, they are painful when they occur, yet without them, the forest could not survive. They impose discipline, punishing the reckless, rewarding the cautious.' The thin line of where risky becomes reckless is something I'd like to focus us on today. No matter the risk-level of your portfolio, if you are reading this you are probably smart enough to know that when you play with fire you may get burned. You have to know how to look for smoke, or signs of a potential catastrophe, so you know not to grab the doorknob with both hands.

    ...
  • The Making of a Greek Tragedy

    Back and recovering from my Strategic Investment Conference this weekend (where I decided to give myself permission not to write my usual letter, but I promise I will be back at it this next Friday!) I have spent some time pondering what we learned. It was a fabulous conference. Lacy Hunt, Dr. Gary Shilling, David Rosenberg, Niall Ferguson, Paul McCulley, George Friedman, former Fed Senior Economist Jason Cummins (who is now Chief Economist for Brevan Howard, the largest European hedge fund, and who was quite impressive), Jon Sundt of Altegris, and your humble analyst were all in top form. I must admit with a little pride that I think this is the finest speaker lineup for ANY investment conference anywhere. We were given a lot to think about.

    Let me give you a few key points as an intro to this week's Outside the Box. First, there is a bubble building and it is in sovereign debt. It threatens to be a worse bubble than subprime or the credit crisis. Second, at one panel where we were asked what is our main worry, Paul McCulley said 'Europe,' which triggered an intense discussion, both in the panel and later that night over dinner. I agreed, of course, as I have written that very thing.

    ...