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  • The Multiplication of Money

    The economy grew in the fourth quarter by 5.9%, the most in years. The adjusted monetary base is exploding. Bank reserves are literally through the roof. The Fed is flooding money into the system in an effort to get banks to lend. An historically normal response by banks (to increase lending) would have been massively inflationary, causing the Fed to stomp on the brakes. Despite raising the almost meaningless discount rate (as who uses it?), this week Ben Bernanke assured Congress of an easy monetary policy, with rates remaining low for a long time. Many ask, how can this not be inflationary?

    This week we look at some fundamentals of money supply and the economy. If you understand this, you won't get misled by people selling investments, telling you to buy this or that based on some chart that shows whatever they are selling to be what you absolutely have to have to protect your portfolio and/or make massive profits. And we touch on a few odds and ends. And yes, I can't resist, a few more thoughts on Greece. It will make for an interesting letter, as I'm writing on a plane to San Jose. And it will print a bit longer than usual, because there are a lot of charts.

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  • Warren Makes a Bet

    The Sage of Omaha made a bet that was written up in a recent Fortune magazine article. Basically, Warren Buffett bet that the S&P 500 would outperform a group of funds of hedge funds over the next ten years. A million dollars to someone's favorite charity is on the line. This week we will analyze the bet, using it as a springboard to learn about valuation and value investing. As we will see, there are times that making a bet on the S&P 500 to outperform hedge funds (or bonds or real estate or whatever asset class) makes sense and times when it doesn't....
  • The Fugu Ultimatum

    The Fugu Ultimatum In the early fall of 1998, I remember being on a flight to Bermuda from New York. I was upgraded and sat next to a very distinguished looking gentleman. He was going to a conference about re-insurance and I was going to speak at a large...
  • A New Definition of Rich

    Introduction I am in South Africa as this week's letter is being sent out; so it is with some irony that the letter is focused on a topic that generally concerns only US-based investors, although what the SEC does has an effect on regulatory bodies...
  • 2006 Mid-Year Forecast

    Introduction This week we will venture into the always hazardous area of making my semi-annual forecast. I make some non-consensus projections as to the economic climate for the next six months, and of course look at Fed policy. We will also quickly review...
  • A Foolish Conversation With John Mauldin

    Introduction This week I am in La Jolla for my annual Strategic Investment Conference. It is packed, and of course I am quite busy, so not much time to write my regular e-letter. But a few weeks ago, Rich Smith from The Motley Fool did a fairly wide-ranging...
  • Are There Too Many Hedge Funds?

    Introduction At precisely what point can we say that there are too many hedge funds? Are too many funds the reason hedge fund returns were down in 2004? What does the answer say about the potential for future returns? And how large might the industry...