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  • Any Bonds Today?

    By a continuing process of inflation, governments can confiscate, secretly and unobserved, an important part of the wealth of their citizens. By this method, they not only confiscate, but they confiscate arbitrarily; and, while the process impoverishes many, it actually enriches some. The sight of this arbitrary rearrangement of riches strikes not only at security, but at confidence in the equity of the existing distribution of wealth. Those to whom the system brings windfalls . . . become 'profiteers', who are the object of the hatred of the bourgeoisie, whom the inflationism has impoverished not less than the proletariat. As the inflation proceeds . . . all permanent relations between debtors and creditors, which form the ultimate foundation of capitalism, become so utterly disordered as to be almost meaningless….

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  • Prisoner of the Bureaucracy

    I wrote some time ago that Greece had a choice between Disaster A: staying in the euro; and Disaster B: leaving the euro. I have recently come back from four days in Greece, meeting with lots of people at all levels of society, and will share with you in this letter my analysis of their choices and the results. I'll also have a few things to say about what the developments in Greece might mean for the rest of Europe and the developed world.

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  • Unintended Consequences

    Correct me if I'm wrong, but I seem to remember that one of the reasons for QE2 was to lower rates on the longer end of the US yield curve. Clearly, that has not happened? Today we look at come of the unintended consequences of monetary policy, turn our eyes briefly to consumer debt, and wonder about deflating incomes. There are a lot of very interesting things to cover. (This letter will print long, but there are a lot of graphs. Usual amount of copy.)

    But first, the are some changes and upgrades being made to the database that houses the list of my 1.5 million closest friends. That means that some of you will be reading this on the website this week, rather than having the letter sent directly to you. If this letter doesn't show up for some reason, you can always go to www.investorsinsight.com and get it directly from the website. We should be back on track by next week. Sorry for any inconvenience.

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  • Why Bother With Bonds?

    Investors, we are told, demand a risk premium for investing in stocks rather than bonds. Without that extra return, why invest in risky stocks if you can get guaranteed returns in bonds? This week we look at a brilliantly done paper examining whether or not investors have gotten better returns from stocks over the really long run and not just the last ten years, when stocks have wandered in the wilderness. This will not sit well with the buy and hope crowd, but the data is what the data is. Then we look at how bulls are spinning bad news into good and, if we have time, look at how you should analyze GDP numbers. Are we really down 6%? (Short answer: no.) It should make for a very interesting letter....
  • The Law of Unintended Consequences

    Rules have consequences. And sometimes they have unintended consequences. If I told you that the US government was going to give multiple tens of billions of taxpayer dollars to hedge funds and private investors, you would justifiably not be happy. I think the word angry would come to mind. But that is exactly what is happening, as a result of rules that were written for a time and place seemingly long ago and far, far away. Further, we are looking at potentially much larger sums being lost in the bank bailout (can we say hundreds of billions?), a reduced lending capacity at banks and, in general, a worsening of the very problems at the core of the crisis. The good news is that it can be fixed, but the authorities need to get a sense of urgency. As Steve Forbes writes today in the Wall Street Journal, Obama is continuing with the worst of Bush's policies, making the crisis far worse than it should be. It is as if we are giving all 13-year-old kids a 'F' in math because one kid failed....
  • Should the Fed Cut Interest Rates?

    Should the Fed Cut Interest Rates? The Shocker in the Employment Numbers Should the Federal Reserve Cut Interest Rates? Will A Cut Make Any Difference? How Housing Woes Hurt the Rest of the Economy Home Again, Home Again The unemployment numbers came...
  • Hope Is Not a Strategy

    Introduction Investors are constantly seeking "alpha," that elusive substance which yields returns in excess of a simple market portfolio. While I am flying today to Prague, this week good friend Rob Arnott teams up with associate John West...
  • The Subprime Virus

    The Subprime Virus The Subprime Virus 2007 Mid-Year Forecast Compete With the Pros When the Facts Change Credit? What Credit? global Warming, Maine and San Antonio As predicted in this letter early this year, the credit markets have finally begun to tighten...
  • Ahead of the Yield Curve

    Introduction Last week we started a series on a very important book by friend Joe Ellis called "Ahead of the Curve." We continue this week looking at specific indicators that Joe thinks give us a heads up when the economy is about to slow down...
  • The Yield Curve, Part 8

    Introduction The level of attention to the recent and mild inversion of the yield curve has bordered on hysteria in the media. Does it portend a recession? Or is, as Ethan Harris, the chief economist of Lehman Brothers suggests, the bond market simply...