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  • Economic Singularity

    "Concern about politics and the processes of international co-operation is warranted but the best one can hope for from politics in any country is that it will drive rational responses to serious problems. If there is no consensus on the causes or solutions to serious problems, it is unreasonable to ask a political system to implement forceful actions in a sustained way. Unfortunately, this is to an important extent the case with respect to current economic difficulties, especially in the industrial world.

    "While there is agreement on the need for more growth and job creation in the short run and on containing the accumulation of debt in the long run, there are deep differences of opinion both within and across countries as to how this can be accomplished. What might be labelled the 'orthodox view' attributes much of our current difficulty to excess borrowing by the public and private sectors, emphasises the need to contain debt, puts a premium on credibly austere fiscal and monetary policies, and stresses the need for long-term structural measures rather than short-term demand-oriented steps to promote growth.

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  • Uncertainty and Risk in the Suicide Pool

    For the past 80 years, we have created ever more sophisticated models of risk in the economic and investment worlds. With each new tool we create to measure risk, we seem to think we have somehow gained more control over our future. Paradoxically, we appear to believe that the more we understand risk, the more we can somehow control our exposure to it. The more we build elaborate models and see correlations between events and the performance of our investments and the economy, the more confident we become.

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  • Time to Row, or Sail?

    Note to readers: Due to internet connection problems from the Shadow Fed fishing camp in Maine, important information that John wanted to include in this week's letter did not get out in time for the original deadline, and so we are reposting the letter.

    A few weeks ago, Ed Easterling and I updated the work we published almost ten years ago about secular bear and bull markets in chapters 5 and 6 of Bull's Eye Investing. This week I am in Maine at the annual Shadow Fed fishing trip (for those of us whose invitation to Jackson Hole keeps getting lost in the mail). Ed has graciously agreed to do another piece with me on the earnings, or business, cycle, which is different in timing than the secular stock market cycle but is part of the total warp and woof of the markets. When you combine them, you get a much clearer picture of the markets.

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  • The Lion in the Grass

    "In the economic sphere an act, a habit, an institution, a law produces not only one effect, but a series of effects. Of these effects, the first alone is immediate; it appears simultaneously with its cause; it is seen. The other effects emerge only subsequently;they are not seen; we are fortunate if we foresee them.

    "There is only one difference between a bad economist and a good one: the bad economist confines himself to the visible effect; the good economist takes into account both the effect that can be seen and those effects that must be foreseen.

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  • Meanwhile, Back at the Ranch

    It is simply hard to tear your eyes away from the slow-motion train wreck that is Europe. Historians will be writing about this moment in time for centuries, and with an ever-present media we see it unfold before our eyes. And yes, we need to tear our gaze away from Europe and look around at what is happening in the rest of the world. There is about to be an eerily near-simultaneous ending to the quantitative easing by the four major central banks while global growth is slowing down. And so, while the future of Europe is up for grabs, the true danger to global markets and growth may be elsewhere. But, let’s do start with the seemingly obligatory tour of Europe.

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  • Waving the White Flag

    For quite some time in this letter I have been making the case that for the eurozone to survive, the European Central Bank would have to print more money than any of us can now imagine. That the sentiment among European leaders was that they were prepared for such a move was clear – except for Germany, which is haunted by fears of a return to the days of the Weimar Republic and hyperinflation.

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  • A Little Bull’s Eye Investing

    Bull's Eye Investing was the book that really helped establish this letter. It dealt with a host of investing ideas, secular market cycles, value investing, alternative investing, and more. It is still in print some nine years later and has had a very positive response. Today I can share that I have taken that material, updated it, and written a new book, part of the Little Book series done by Wiley, called The Little Book of Bull's Eye Investing – Finding Value, Generating Absolute Returns, and Controlling Risk in Turbulent Markets.

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  • The Center Cannot Hold

    This coming week we shall likely see Congress pass an extension of the "temporary" payroll tax cut, first enacted as a stimulus to the economy in January of 2011. As I write, the extension is just for two months. We'll leave aside the politics and look at the economic implications of the extension, and then go on to examine the deficit in the US. That will give rise to some thoughts about Europe and what would have to happen for a country to leave the euro. We'll finally close with some thoughts and graphs about the more controversial part of the tax cut extension, the Keystone XL Pipeline. Just how radical is it to build such a pipeline in the US? And what are the implications for the deficit? I think looking at a few maps might surprise some readers. It should all make for a rather controversial letter, but then controversy is my middle name. (Note, this letter will print longer as there are lots of charts.)

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  • Twist and Shout?

    Bailing Out Europe’s Banks
    WWGD?
    What Is the Fed Really Risking?
    What Will the Fed Do Next Week?
    Twist and Shout?
    Europe, Houston, NYC, and South Africa

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  • The Beginning of the Endgame

    The Big Bang Moment
    Bang, Indeed!
    “It’s the Economy, Dummkopf!”
    The Long and Winding Road to Crisis
    Are We Already in Recession?
    So What Can We Do?
    Home and then Ireland, London, and Geneva

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  • An Economy at Stall Speed

    In This Issue:

    An Economy at Stall Speed
    Is There a Recession in Our Future?
    What I Told the Senators
    Escalating Eurozone Interbank Liquidity Crisis: Dollar-Euro Impact?
    Time for Friends, Fish, and Wine

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  • Economic Whiplash

    In This Issue:

    Non-Farm Payrolls Even Worse than the Headline
    Velocity Rolls Over
    Intolerable Choices for the Eurozone
    And It Just Gets Worse
    Tuscany

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  • The Curve in the Road

    In This Issue:

    The Curve in the Road
    Capacity Utilization Is Rising
    Inflation Expectations
    The Transmission Mechanism
    Portland, New York, and Home for a Few Weeks

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  • Unintended Consequences

    In This Issue:

    Loose Monetary Policies and Emerging Markets
    Bubbles in Emerging Markets
    Difficult Choices
    Snowbird, New York, Portland, and La Jolla

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  • Are Booming Economies Good for the Markets?

    In This Issue:

    The Delusion of Crowds and the Endgame
    Let the Good Times Roll
    Are Booming Economies Good for the Markets?
    Back to 2007?
    My Strategic Investment Conference
    Don’t Miss This Speech
    Media, La Jolla, London, Malta, Milan, Zurich, and New York

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