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  • The Room – 03/20/2009

    I worry I shall disappoint you today. After all, how can mere words, pecked out awkwardly on a shaky airplane table, adequately communicate all that has occurred this week?

    As regular readers may guess, the plane I am on is taking me to Las Vegas for our sold-out Crisis & Opportunity Summit. While the event was deliberately scheduled to give the Obama administration an opportunity to reveal its cards after having been handed Bush's busted hand, the timing has turned out to be especially propitious, coming as it is at the end of a week that seems to be of some historic significance.

    Of course, we wish you were joining us here in Las Vegas -- if you aren't -- but as your correspondent, I will certainly include notes from the event in next week's missive. But that is then, and this is now.

    And now, everything is going to hell....
  • The Room – 02/27/2009

    This morning, as I was looking over dispatches from correspondents around the world -- from Ed in Alberta… Sadia in the UK… Baldy in Indonesia… the 'General' in Portugal...and Nitin in Katmandu -- I began to appreciate what it must have been like to be on the news desk during World War II. I am trying not to be overly pessimistic, but there’s no denying the mass of bad news coming to us from all fronts: the forces of collectivism are using the cover of the crisis they largely created, aided and abetted by capitalism’s quislings, to roll over the individual. Even so, contained within the dire reportage is also some very good news for you personally, and I’ll touch on that as well in today’s missive....
  • The Room – 02/20/2009

    We’re going to be flying low and fast in this weekly scan of the landscape in the quest for items that are 'important,' as opposed to 'merely interesting.' At the top of the list of what we would consider important is the increasing likelihood that the wheels are about to come off the global economy. And, worse, fly through the air and wipe out any number of innocent bystanders. (By now, you and the other readers of our services should already be safely in the duck-and-cover position.) It is becoming clear that more than just our subscribers are beginning to understand the depth, severity, and nature of this crisis: as I begin writing this morning, gold has rebounded to just a few ticks away from the $1,000 mark. By the time I am finished today, we could see that mark taken out. More on that topic later, but first......
  • The Room - 10/24/2008

    I have woken in the pre-dawn to find our direst predictions coming true, with global stock markets taking yet another pounding and U.S. stock futures limit down. Serving as a proxy for the mindset now gripping governments around the world, French President Sarkozy has announced that the French government will, henceforth, buy shares in important French companies in an attempt to prop them up. 'We will intervene massively whenever a strategic enterprise needs our money,' said Sarkozy, a supposed economic conservative, as he pounded the table on behalf of nationalizing industry. The New Age of big government is upon us. Armed with Harry Potter-like magical monetary wands, they are wildly conjuring a deluge of money from thin air to bind the free market and keep it from facilitating the resolution of economic and investment dislocations created over decades. Bud Conrad tells me he is having a hard time adding up all the fiat money that has been committed to the battle for economic - and, by extension, political - survival over the past couple of months. The numbers rolling off the lips of officialdumb have progressed well past the hundreds of millions, or even hundreds of billions, and have now reached the trillions. In that theme, the Fed announced this week that it would drop over half a trillion - $540 billion, to be exact - on the purchase of suspect commercial paper now clogging the portfolios of 'safe harbor' money market funds. Given that there is a total of $3.4 trillion of your money resting in those very same funds, the commitment of $540 billion - about 16% of the total - should be taken as an indicator of just how bad the problem really is....
  • The Room - 10/03/2008

    We're no longer in Kansas, Dorothy. At this point, the world's financial markets are in the firm grasp of a massive tornado. Our vision is blurred with fast-moving images of abandoned houses, crumbling banks, pontificating politicians, alien-looking Treasury secretaries on one knee, and suicide stock and commodities charts. When the whole mess crashes back on terra firma, the landscape will look considerably different. But, what? We remain convinced that the result, with the unavoidable time lag, will be inflation on an epic, global scale. But if history provides one lesson in rich abundance, it is that the future is unpredictable. Who is to say that the government of these United States -- and of similarly indebted and in-trouble countries "over there" -- aren't too late to the game? Or that even $700 billion, or a trillion... or...?... will not prove to be too little, too late?...
  • The Room - 09/26/2008

    What a world I have returned to from my cloistered retreat at the beautiful Vivenda Miranda, scenically situated on a cliff outside of the quaint port town of Lagos, Portugal. Everything has changed. Everything is changing. The storm we have so long tried to help you prepare for is upon us. At this point, I can only hope you have your sails rigged for the storm now breaking, because time is running out. The violent volatility I warned of when last I wrote has arrived, with towering waves now rising up and smashing into the economy - and as an unavoidable consequence, our personal portfolios -- from all sides. Overnight the holders of my mortgage, WaMu, failed, the largest bank failure in history. This week, the golf course that I usually play on was taken over by the government... last week it belonged to AIG. As you don't need me to tell you, that same government now wants to spend over a trillion dollars to bail out Wall Street and to shore up the money market mutual funds - which have so far flown under the radar screen despite portfolios stuffed to the brim with bad paper. While no one was paying attention, U.S. automakers used their election year leverage to win approval for $25 billion in low-interest loans....
  • The Room 4/29/08

    Written: April 25, 2008 Dear Reader, What an interesting week! Having been a single parent for two weeks, with the kids on spring break for the second of those, I have attained a whole new level of appreciation, yes, I think that's the word, for the...
  • The Room 4/22/08

    Written: April 18 2008 Dear Readers, I am running quite late this sunny New England morning. But I have a good excuse: my wife has left me. Well, it's not all that dramatic... it is just that she has hived off for Europe for a ten-day gallivant with...
  • The Room 2/18/08

    Dear Reader, Foolishly, I now realize, I closed last week's column by announcing that I would endeavor to write today's entire missive without a single mention of... okay, well, just this once... government. Some readers have suggested that I...
  • The Room 2/11/08

    Dear Readers, Good morning! And welcome to this edition of The Room! If that salutation suggests a certain snap in my step, well, you'd be right. After all, one can't let one's attitude be overly colored by the gloom and pessimism now stalking...