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  • The Statistical Recovery, Part 2

    A few weeks ago I first used the term 'statistical recovery' to describe the nature of today's economic environment. Today we are going to further explore that concept, as it is important to have a real understanding of what is happening. This coming 'recovery' is not going to feel like a typical one, and those expecting a 'V'-shaped recovery are simply making projections from previous economic recoveries, which, based on the fundamentals, are not warranted. And of course, a few thoughts coming back from Maine are in order. There is a lot to cover, and this may take more than one letter.

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  • This Way There Be Dragons

    In fantasy novels the intrepid heroes come across a sign saying 'This Way Be Dragons.' Of course, they venture on, facing calamity and death, but such is the nature of fantasy novels. We live in a very real world, and if we don't turn around there will be some very nasty dragons in our future. This week we look at three possible paths we can lead the world down. We then review a number of charts and data on the housing market.

    If you just read the headlines on this week's data, you could be forgiven for assuming the worst is over -- not. And then finally we look at some rather stark comparative data on the health-care systems of the US, Canada, and Great Britain. Everyone knows the US pays way more in terms of GDP than the latter two countries. Are we getting our money's worth? There is a lot to cover, and I hope to finish this on a flight to Naples, so let's jump right in....
  • Solving the Housing Crisis

    This last Tuesday the Wall Street Journal published an op-ed by my friend Gary Shilling and Richard LeFrak. They offer a simple solution for the housing crisis: give foreigners who will come to the US and buy a home resident status (green cards). This is a very important proposal and one that deserves national attention and action. Gary was kind enough to send me two lengthier white papers offering more facts. In this week's letter we are going to look at this proposal in more detail than the small space that an op-ed can offer. And while this letter will be somewhat controversial in some circles, I ask that you read it through, giving me the time to make the case. I will also add a few thoughts as to why this could not only help solve the housing crisis, but help put the nation back into growth mode.

    Long-time readers know that I have been growing more and more bearish of late. I have been writing for a long time that we are in for a long period of slow Muddle Through growth as the twin crises of the housing bubble and credit bubbles require time to heal. Today we look at a serious proposal for cutting the time to healing for at least one of those bubbles (housing), and at least keep the other (credit) from getting worse. This is the most serious idea I have seen that could actually make a real positive contribution to the economy and help put us back on a growth path....
  • Stuck in the Middle With You

    Introduction Clowns to the left of me, Jokers to the right, here I am Stuck in the middle with you! - Stealers Wheel, 1974 The recent data on the economy is stronger than was expected. Does this mean that the slowdown we have seen for the past few quarters...
  • What Does a Dollar of Debt Get You?

    Introduction This weekend I am in La Jolla at good friend Rob Arnott's conference. Princeton Professor Burton Malkiel, of Random Walk fame, will be one of the luminaries at the annual Research Affiliates Advisory Panel. So, with that thought in mind...
  • Real Estate and the Post-Crash Economy

    Introduction I am taking some time off from writing over the holidays, but good friend Barry Ritholtz offered to write this week's letter. It is a very thought-provoking piece on the importance of what he calls the "real estate industrial complex"...
  • Déjà Vu All Over Again

    Introduction I had occasion to be in my car this morning, listening to CNBC, when the host of the show (Bob Pisani, a very nice gentleman on the few occasions I have had the opportunity to meet him) was arguing with a modestly bearish guest. Yes, there...
  • Do Trade Deficits Matter?

    Introduction "I don't know whether change will come with a bang or a whimper, whether sooner or later. But as things stand now, it is more likely than not that it will be a financial crisis rather than a policy foresight that will force change...