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John Mauldin's Outside the Box

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  • 2013 Investment Themes

    Deleveraging of the financial and household sectors has created a terrific macroeconomic undertow since 2008, eroding growth. Gary argues (against many of the talking heads in the mainstream TV world) that the deleveraging process for both these sectors has several years to run before it returns them to the long-term trend. He notes that QE is having only temporary and limited impact, as each round of easing by the Fed has propped up stocks only until a crisis in Europe or the US undermines incipient recovery all over again.

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  • Absolute Zero

    It was Gary Shilling – way back in the last century – who first woke me up to the real whys and wherefores of deflation, with his 1998 best-seller, Deflation: Why it's coming, whether it's good or bad, and how it will affect your investments, business, and personal affairs. I had read various works on deflation, but nowhere was it put together as well as Gary did it. He followed it up the next year with Deflation: How to survive and thrive in the coming wave of deflation, and in that one he strongly urged his readers out of the stock market – just ahead of the 2000 dot-com bubble burst. But Gary has been so right over the past three decades. (He recently updated Deflation with The Age of Deleveraging: Investment Strategies for a Decade of Slow Growth and Deflation. It’s on Amazon at http://www.amazon.com/Age-Deleveraging.

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  • The Age of Deleveraging

    Before we get into this week’s outstanding Outside the Box, I want to comment on QE2 and the efforts by some Republican economists to urge legislators to get involved to stop it (see the front page of Monday’s Wall Street Journal). That pushes my comfort zone a little too much.

    First, I am not a fan of QE2. Never have been. If it had been my call, I would have punted and told the guys in the Capital that the ball was in their court to get their fiscal house in order, because that is the main source of the problem. But Bernanke and the Fed felt they had to “do something,” to demonstrate they got the seriousness of the situation. If the only policy tool you have left is the hammer of printing money, then the world looks like a nail.

    Second, I doubt it works. It might be interesting to see what would happen (theoretically) if they decided to print $3-4 trillion. Now that would have a (probably very negative) impact. But it would show up on the radar screen. I think $600 billion just gets soaked up in bank balance sheets, sloughed off to world emerging markets (that don’t want it) and other hot spots, with some drifting into the stock market. But does it increase real final demand, which is what the Keynesians are so seemingly desperate for? I doubt it. And I just don’t see the transmission mechanism for QE2 to produce new employment of any statistical significance.

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