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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  • The Bond Market: Beware of Junkyard Dogs

    It should come as no surprise that credit spreads are shrinking between what in theory are risk-free investments and other investments. Retirees and other investors are reaching farther and farther for yield, piling into all sorts of increasingly risky investments.

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  • Bill Gross at His Best

    I normally read Bill Gross’s monthly letter the day of or shortly after when it comes out. For whatever reason, I didn’t get around to his early June letter until a few days ago. It has been a few years since I have sent his letter out as your Outside the Box for the week, but I thought this one was so good that I needed to send it on. As it turns out, I went this morning to get it from his website and found that his July letter is out, and it is just as good. Since he writes relatively short letters, I’m going to use both of them.

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  • 70 Is the New 65

    As some of us know far too well, forecasting the future with any precision is extremely difficult. There’s at least one exception to the rule, though. Population trends show themselves decades and even centuries in advance. If we know how many people were born in a given year, we can extrapolate what the population will look like far in the future.

    On the other hand, demographic forecasting still requires assumptions. At what age will people start having children, and how many will they have? How will new medical advances affect life spans? When will people start working, stop working, and enter retirement? Small changes in any of those assumptions can quickly affect population numbers.

    Today’s Outside the Box wrestles with that last question. In the United States we allowed the federal government to set 65 as the retirement age by making Social Security available to most workers at that point in their lives. The retirement age is going up to 67 for the younger members of the Baby Boom generation, but even that may be too “young” to retire in the future.

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  • The Debate Over Renminbi Policy

    Today I have a recent piece in which Louis Gave jumps into the team’s debate over renminbi policy. In true Gavekal style, he openly questions what others in the firm think about China’s currency. I won’t steal any of his thunder but just encourage you to read this piece carefully. It covers a great deal of very important ground.

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  • Dear Media, Stop Freaking Out About Donald Trump’s Polls

    I’m going to offer something a little different in this week’s Outside the Box. Nate Silver has consistently been one of the best political analysts of the past 12 years. I wasn’t terribly enamored of his move from the New York Times to ESPN – to go back to covering sports rather than politics – but he still covers politics over at 538.

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  • Inspiration from the World of Sports

    One of the most successful investors in the world is Howard Marks of Oaktree Capital Management. One of the things I look forward to every quarter is the letter he writes to his clients – it goes right to the top of my reading list. Not only is it always full of generally brilliant investment counsel, Howard is also a really great writer. He has an easy style that pulls you through his letter effortlessly.

    I have never sent his letter to you as an Outside the Box, as the copies I get are clearly watermarked and copyrighted. So I was surprised and delighted to learn that the letter is free when I listened to a speech by Howard in which he encouraged everyone to get it. Unlike another hundred-billion-dollar hedge fund company that shall go unnamed, Oaktree evidently thinks that brilliance should be shared.

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  • The Wall

    I generally send out two letters a week. The letter that arrives in your inbox over the weekend is Thoughts from the Frontline and is written by me. The second letter, which is called Outside the Box, generally comes in the middle of the week and is an article or essay written by someone else that I think merits your time. Quite often I disagree with the sentiment or analysis being expressed, but I find the writer makes me think about alternatives to my personally favored presuppositions. It is always good to listen to the other side of the story, especially when we are talking economics and finance and our investment portfolios!

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  • Blodget on Market History

    I remember the first time I walked into Henry Blodget’s new startup, Business Insider, back in 2009. Twelve fresh-faced kids were crammed into a room about the size of my bedroom, pounding away on laptops, creating a new destination website. He took me over to a corner; we sat down in front of a few cameras; and he began shooting question after question at me, later turning the session into a series of interviews.

    You walk into his office today and it’s still packed wall-to-wall with fresh-faced kids (the older I get the younger they look), but the offices are much larger, and it seemed to me last time that there had to be at least 150 people in them. But the interviews are still quick-paced, even if they’re now conducted in a special room, with upgraded equipment.

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  • Germany’s Immigration Challenge

    This immigration crisis in Europe is a big deal, and it’s a bigger deal for Germany than for any other European country. Germany is directly in the firing line, both geographically and in terms of how many of the migrants want to settle there. Nearly 40% of migrants choose Germany as their preferred final destination, while the only other nation that is chosen by more than 10% of migrants is Hungary, at 18%.

    Daniel Stelter is a very wired German economist and business thinker. He wrote to me a couple days ago, said he had read my remarks on Germany and the immigration crisis in last week’s Thoughts from the Frontline, and recommended to my attention a couple of articles he had just written on the issue. They are today’s Outside the Box.

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  • The Corruption of American Freedom

    This is going to be an unusual Outside the Box. I’ve been part of the political process, both as a practitioner and an observer, for some 40 years. I cast my first vote in the presidential election for George McGovern but by the 1980s had made a hard right turn. Over the last decade I’ve been far less involved but no less interested.

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  • Hoisington Quarterly Review and Outlook – Second Quarter 2015

    In today’s Outside the Box, my good friend Lacy Hunt of Hoisington Investment Management reminds us that since the 1990-91 recession, the 30-year Treasury bond yield has dropped from 9% to 3%, a downward move nearly identical to the decline in the rate of inflation, which fell from just over 6% in 1990 to 0% today. Therefore, Lacy says, “(I)t was the backdrop of shifting inflationary circumstances that once again determined the trend in long-term Treasury bond yields.”

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  • The Importance of RMB Internationalization

    For the last four years, I have been highlighting the idea that when Beijing floats the renminbi, the  currency may go down, not up, which is the exact opposite of what those who accuse China of currency manipulation believe would happen. I had this very argument with Lindsey Graham two weeks ago at a small dinner in New York, where I listened politely to his positions on a variety of topics until he began talking about currency manipulation. Given that the preceding topic had been the Federal Reserve, and considering that the rest of the world considers the quantitative easing that the Fed did to be the epitome of currency manipulation, I found that I couldn’t sit still; and we engaged in a very, let’s call it intense, back and forth. To the Senator’s credit, and my surprise, after dinner he came over and asked if I would visit him in New York, which is now on my short list of things to do.

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  • Hoisington Quarterly Review and Outlook: First Quarter 2015

    I think it was almost two years ago that I was in Cyprus. Cyprus had just come through its crisis and was still in shell shock. I was there to get a feel for what it was like, and a number of my readers had courteously arranged for me to meet with all sorts of people and do a few presentations. A local group arranged for me to speak at the lecture hall of the Central Bank of Cyprus in Nicosia.

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  • US Dollar: American Phoenix

    Lastweek the FOMC essentially removed forward guidance and placed all options back on the table, and at the end of the day they’ve opened the door for further tightening. As Yellen recently explained in advance, the removal of the word patience from the Fed’s guidance amounts to fair warning to the rest of the world’s central banks: an interest rate hike is on the horizon. Govern your actions accordingly. (My personal guess, for those interested, is September, with the Fed proceeding exceedingly slowly and cautiously thereafter.)

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  • The Kingdom of Denmark

    In Thoughts from the Frontline, I am in the middle of writing a series on debt. I realized on Sunday that the second installment wasn’t ready for prime time, so I will work on it some more and send it out (hopefully) this coming weekend. In the meantime, in keeping with the theme of debt, for today’s Outside the Box we have the following issue of The Credit Strategist from the ever-insightful Michael Lewitt. Michael starts out musing on debt and then shares a number of useful thoughts on a variety of market topics, with his usual panache.

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