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The Blacker Swan

“A similar effect is taking place in economic life. I spoke about globalization in Chapter 3; it is here, but it is not all for the good: it creates interlocking fragility, while reducing volatility and giving the appearance of stability. In other words, it creates...

A Recession Like No Other

We just spent the better part of a decade wondering when the next recession would strike. The last two months we stopped wondering. It’s here and a grand council of esteemed economists has confirmed it. On June 8, the Business Cycle Dating Committee of the National...

Where We Go from Here

Predictions are difficult, especially those about the future. That old proverb (often attributed to Yogi Berra) is right but you can’t live without making certain presumptions. You presume your car will start, your refrigerator will stay cold, the lights will turn on...

Economics in Orbit

The history of humanity, at least as taught in most schools, is really about two seemingly opposite forces: human innovation and human conflict. The same intelligence that lets us accomplish great things also sets us against each other. But sometimes, we rise above...

Rewinding the Tape

We finished the Virtual Strategic Investment Conference yesterday. I can honestly say it was simply the best conference I have ever attended or been privileged to host. The ability to bring together so many exciting speakers, something schedules would not have allowed...

Reflection Week

I knew this letter’s topic months ago. It was going to be a review of the Strategic Investment Conference, which would have just concluded fabulously in sunny Scottsdale. Well, something intervened. Coronavirus precautions kept us from having an in-person conference....

Five Viral Lessons

We live in truly historic times. “There are decades when nothing happens, and weeks when decades happen,” says a quote usually attributed to Vladimir Lenin. It certainly fits now. For thousands of years, people who lived through what we call “history” didn’t realize...

The Figure-It-Out Economy

Market sentiment reflects human sentiment, which lately has been quite negative—understandably so, given the great uncertainty surrounding the coronavirus pandemic. A month ago, we didn’t know where all this was going but it was potentially serious. I can almost begin...

Viral Thoughts

We are looking at a world with parameters bounded by pure imagination; where we go from here is anyone's guess. —Will Thomson and Chip Russell, Massif Capital Today’s letter will be another hop-around review of the crisis landscape. I’ll touch on several topics...

Bull & Bear Tracker Notice

The good news is that the cumulative gains for conservative traders trading the inverse SH ETF last week was 1.9% and for aggressive traders who traded the inverse SPXS last week was 6%.The bad news is that due to extremely volatile market conditions the signals in...

Repricing the World

The viral fog is starting to thin. US coronavirus case growth appears to be slowing, albeit at a tragically high level. Governments and businesses are thinking about the next stage. On the other hand, fog tends to return when the weather is right. Might this virus...

Bending the Inflation Curve

“Inflation is always and everywhere a monetary phenomenon in the sense that it is and can be produced only by a more rapid increase in the quantity of money than in output. … A steady rate of monetary growth at a moderate level can provide a framework under which a...

Notes from Lockdown

In times of change learners inherit the earth; while the learned find themselves beautifully equipped to deal with a world that no longer exists. —Eric Hoffer Greetings from Puerto Rico, where this frequent traveler is evidently home for an unusually long time. I want...

The Beacons Are Lit

In the film version of Tolkien’s Lord of the Rings: Return of the King, there’s a three-minute scene you should watch or re-watch. It is relevant to our situation today. Gondor needed to light the beacons for aid. Click here for video. At the other end of the beacons,...

Stock market, a buy at October lows

Glass Bead Capital Management (Glass Bead) warned our readers and investors on January 23rd that the market was vulnerable to a correction and that it would be wise to take profits. We had deduced that the probability was fairly high that the market would provide a...

The Hits to GDP

Economists and investors are rightly obsessed with growth. We always want more of it. We worry it won’t come or, worse, might turn into contraction. Economists of all stripes, from Paul Krugman to Lacy Hunt, recognize economic growth cures all manner of ills. Yet,...

Dismissing the Experts

Regular readers know I often criticize so-called “experts,” usually economists or central bankers whose flawed decisions are punishing the rest of us. I find their expertise is not nearly as reliable as they seem to think. At the same time, I rely on experts whose...

Nose Blind to Inflation

The human brain excels at taking shortcuts. Processing all the information our senses collect takes a lot of energy, so repetitive data gets lower priority. Things we see often fade into the background so we can notice new stuff. This is where we get phenomena like...

Too Much Greed — Moving To The Sidelines

It has been a little over 3 months since our last commentary where we predicted that the market was likely to begin a big trending rally as we cleared almost 2 years of a range bound S&P500 and other major indices. Ranges are very important as they serve to...

Looking on the Bright Side

We haven’t had a lot of good news lately. Or, more precisely, we haven’t seen a lot of good news lately, though it does exist. We don’t see it because both regular media and social media usually focus on the bad. That’s not entirely wrong. The survival imperative...

Prelude to Crisis

Ignoring problems rarely solves them. You need to deal with them—not just the effects, but the underlying causes, or else they usually get worse. The older you get, the more you know that is true in almost every area of life. In the developed world and especially the...

Time to Do the Hard Thing

We choose to go to the moon in this decade and do the other things, not because they are easy, but because they are hard, because that goal will serve to organize and measure the best of our energies and skills, because that challenge is one that we are willing to...

Inflationary Angst

According to the dictionary, the word angst refers to “a feeling of deep anxiety or dread, typically an unfocused one about the human condition or the state of the world in general.” It comes from a German word for “fear.” Two weeks ago I referred back to my...

Advice Worth Taking

We’ve reached the Thanksgiving weekend, and as always, I’m thankful for loyal readers like you. I hope you are enjoying some quality time with family and friends. And because of the holiday, this week’s letter will be shorter than usual, but I think it will offer real...

Muddling for Solutions

Those who experienced the 1930s as adults are mostly gone now, but they left notes. We have a pretty good record of what that period was like. It wasn’t fun to begin with—then it got worse. This year, I’ve written several times about the 1930s parallels that Ray Dalio...

The Road to Default

Nothing is forever, not even debt. Every borrower eventually either repays what they owe, or defaults. Lenders may or may not have remedies. But one way or another, the debt goes away. One of Western civilization’s largest problems is we’ve convinced ourselves debt...