My Solution for Europe

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Taking the express train from Paris to Frankfurt, I was playing around with the map function on my iPhone 4s. It was really cool watching the blue dot marking my location zip across the map at 200 miles per hour. When I zoomed in on my location, I realized that I recognized many of the names. Soissons, Chateau, Thierry, and Belleau Wood were all names that I recalled from my … [Read more...]

Mr. Mario’s Big Bluff

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A couple of alleged Tweets, a few rumored phone calls, and what have we got? $2 trillion in new global stock market capitalization in hours. That was the bottom line after the purported communication between the staffs of Germany’s Angela Merkel, France’s Jean Francois Hollande, and ECB president Mario Draghi. But is the creation of this immense new wealth, which would alone … [Read more...]

An Evening With Travel Guru Arthur Frommer

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When I backpacked around Europe in 1968, I relied heavily on Arthur Frommer’s paperback guide, Europe on $5 a Day, which then boasted a cult like following among impoverished, but adventurous Americans. Over the following years he directed me down cobblestoned alleyways, dubious neighborhoods, and sometimes converted WWII air raid shelters, to find those incredible deals. When … [Read more...]

Report From the Olympics

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It was an unexpected call. A close friend who ran one of the world’s largest hedge funds said he had two tickets to the London Olympics opening ceremony on Friday night. Would I like to have them? I said he must be kidding. I knew from my own research that these tickets were the most sought after in the world and were going for $20,000 each on the black market. Forgeries … [Read more...]

Don’t Miss the August 1 Global Strategy Webinar

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My next global strategy webinar will be held on Wednesday, August 1 at 12:00 noon EST. This webinar will be broadcast live from Zermatt, Switzerland, provided that the higher Alps don’t block my Wi-Fi signal. I’ll be giving you my updated outlook on stocks, bonds, commodities, currencies, precious metal, and real estate. The goal is to find the cheapest assets in the world to … [Read more...]

Why Ben Bernanke Hates Me

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I don’t just think he hates me. He truly despises me. In fact, he does everything he can to put me out of business. Take next week, for example, when the Federal Reserve Open Market Committee meets, and he will attempt to give my views and me a complete thrashing. I doubt he’ll launch a QE3 because he needs to keep some dry powder as a last resort. But he probably will … [Read more...]

Report From Paris

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The full force of soaring oil prices really hit home when I arrived in Paris yesterday. As we passed a gas station, I mentioned to the driver that I didn’t know that they sold gas by the gallon in France. He answered that they didn’t. Those were the prices in liters I was seeing. He then voiced concerns about the future of his taxi business as fuel prices ratcheted up from $10 … [Read more...]

Apple Just Gave You a Gift

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Steve Jobs’ creation dropped a real bombshell on the market Tuesday when it announced Q2, 2012 earnings that were rotten to the core. The timing could not have been worse for a market that was on the verge of complete nervous breakdown. Of the 53 brokers who provided research coverage of the Mountain View, California firm, 27 rated it a “buy”, 21 “outperform”, and precisely … [Read more...]

Report From London, Part III

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The city is now the most crowded that it has been at any time since WWII. Most hotels have tripled their rates, forcing traveling students on a budget to sleep in doorways and under bridges everywhere.  My usual abode here, The Naval Officers Club near Piccadilly, honored their regular price since I have been such a long term and loyal guest. However, I was the only one in the … [Read more...]

My Visit to Obama’s House

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During my recent quick run through Chicago, I stopped by Obama’s house on Greenwood Avenue and 50th street in up and coming Hyde Park to say hello. I was thwarted by two concrete crash barriers, 16 cop cars, and army of elderly Chicago police happily pulling overtime. Shifty looking characters wearing long overcoats and sprouting wires out of their ears were everywhere. … [Read more...]

June 26, 2012 – Quote of the Day

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“ The modern Olympic Games are orgies of lachrymose nationalism. War by other means, warrior-athletes, watched by men in suits and uniforms….rogue California chemists running their eye popping, vein-clustered, vest stripping robots against degendered state laboratory freaks,” said author, Ian Sinclair, and outspoken critic of the Olympics. … [Read more...]

Farewell to Barton Biggs

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It is with a great sense of sorrow that I learned of the passing of industry legend, Barton Biggs. He was 79. I was speaking to him only a few weeks ago when I passed through New York for my strategy seminar, attempting to decipher the medium term trends for these fractious and conflicting markets. It is a reminder of how temporary and fleeting life can be. Barton was a … [Read more...]

US Earnings Are Headed Down the Drain

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Remember the $2 trillion US corporate cash mountain that you have heard so much about? Well, it is finally starting to shrink. Have they started reinvesting profits in America? Are they hiring more people? Did they finally get those tax breaks they were begging for? Have they dramatically increased dividends and share buy backs or returned to acquisitions to boost … [Read more...]

Report From London, Part II

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I write this to you from my double suite on the Orient Express crossing the Swiss Alps. My manservant, Charles, is off fetching a cup of tea and steam pressing my white dinner jacket for tonight’s formal dinner. My first night at the Naval & Military Club in London, a group of British Army officers just back from Afghanistan, and their dates, hosted a blowout black tie … [Read more...]

How the Fed Will Trigger the Next Crash

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Over the last two months, I have witnessed one of the least convincing rallies in the US stock market in recent memory. Looking at the chart for the S&P 500 below you can clearly see a modest, low conviction, declining volume rally in an ever-narrowing channel. This is further confirmed by the chart of the NYSE advance/decline ratio that is failing at the March support … [Read more...]

Report from London, Part I

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I am writing this report on the Eurostar Express train 300 feet under the English Channel, which is speeding its way from London to Paris at 200 miles per hour. Waking up in my suite on the Queen Mary 2 at the port of Southampton the other day, the first thing I noticed was that dreadful postwar English architecture. The Germans tried to bomb this place flat to block the … [Read more...]

Testimonial

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You may not be the only renaissance man around today but you certainly must be the most unselfish. We vicariously live what you are living today and what you have experienced in the past through your wonderful prose. Oh, and by the, we also get paid (profits)!! John, go see my doctor in New York next time you are there and tell him I sent you. I want you to live forever. He … [Read more...]

SOLD OUT Last Chance to Come Join Me for the Zermatt, Switzerland July 27, 2012 Seminar

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Come join me for lunch for the Mad Hedge Fund Trader’s Global Strategy Seminar, which I will be conducting high in the Apls in Zermatt, Switzerland at 2:00 PM on Friday, July 27, 2012. A PowerPoint presentation will be followed by an open discussion on the crucial issues facing investors today. Coffee, tea, and schnaps will be made available, but no food. You are welcome to … [Read more...]

The Declining America Myth

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It seems that it has become fashionable to bash America these days. As I run around the country giving my strategy luncheons, I hear a lament that has become all too familiar. America has peaked as a civilization, the story goes, and will follow the British, French, Roman, and even the Egyptian empires into the dustbin of history.  Our standard of living is falling, our … [Read more...]

The Death of the Bond Vigilantes

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Back in the seventies and eighties, when inflation was soaring well into double digits, the markets were regularly punished by a band of gun slinging traders known as the “bond vigilantes.” Hard asset prices were running amuck, and there was a laser like focus on the growth of the money supply. We have just witnessed the largest expansion of the monetary base in history. The … [Read more...]

The Bipolar Economy

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Corporate earnings are up big! Great! Buy! No wait! The economy is going down the toilet! Sell! Buy! Sell! Buy! Sell! Help! Anyone would be forgiven for thinking that the stock market has become bipolar. There is, in fact, an explanation for this madness. According to the Commerce Department’s Bureau of Economic Analysis, the answer is that corporate profits accounts for … [Read more...]

Say Goodbye to Your Favorite Teacher

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Don’t bother taking an apple to school to give your favorite teacher, unless you want to leave it in front of a machine. The schoolteacher is about to join the sorry ranks of the service station attendant, the elevator operator, and the telephone operators whose professions have been rendered useless by technology. The next big social trend in this country will be to replace … [Read more...]

Thoughts at Sea Aboard the Queen Mary 2, Part III

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50 degrees, 26.68 minutes North, 022 degrees, 29.98 minutes East, or 1,000 nautical miles South of Iceland, heading 089 degrees. Four days of hearing foghorns is starting to get tiring. Captain Wells has been ducking many of his social responsibilities, feeling more secure in the bridge close to the radar. After a few days of intermittent access, the internet is now gone for … [Read more...]

The Wisdom of Crowds

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I happen to be a firm believer in the wisdom of crowds, which argues that the actions of millions of participants can deliver a far more efficient answer than any single individual. Think of ants building a colony, where each ant is senseless, but collectively can beat mainframe computers for their utility in design. Any mathematician will tell you that a boarder sample size … [Read more...]

Knowing the Price of Everything and the Value of Nothing

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Knowing the Price of Everything and the Value of Nothing. As a fanatical follower of the price of everything, I have long been an avid viewer of the television program, Antiques Roadshow, for 14 years, and the English version of the show well before that. This is where you learn what stuff like majolica is. Many aspiring collectors come into the open appraisal events hoping … [Read more...]

Money Down the Drain?

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Who was the top paid state employee in California last year? The governor? The Chief Justice of the Supreme Court? How about the leader of the Senate? Nope. It was a prison psychiatrist who took home an eye popping $838,706, most of it in overtime. I love it! The state drives people insane by sending them to jail, then tries to cure them with triple overtime. It is a wealth … [Read more...]

Thoughts at Sea Aboard the Queen Mary 2, Part II

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48 degrees, 02.12 minutes North, 043 degrees, 42.08 minutes East, or 1,000 miles south of Greenland. When I visited the computer center, I was stunned to learn that they were offering three one hour long classes on Apple products and programs every hour, all day long. They covered iMacs, iPads, IPods, IPhones, and all of the associated software and gizmos. I promptly signed … [Read more...]

The Death of the Consumer

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I often get asked why I never put out 'BUY' recommendations on consumer discretionary stocks. I promptly send them in search of the latest consumer spending figures at the Bureau of Economic Analysis, which do not paint a pretty picture (click here for the link). Since 2008, quarterly spending has come in at a scant 0.5%, the lowest figures since the Great Depression. You … [Read more...]

So What is Your “Influencer” Score?

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First there was your grade point average, then your SAT score, followed by GMAT and LSAT scores, and finally your FICO. Now there is a new metric with which you will be judged, your “Influencer” score. A new breed of marketing research firms are using data from social media sites, like Facebook, Linkedin, and Twitter, to rank members according to their ability to spur their … [Read more...]

Watch Out for Those Statistics

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During my college days, one of my math professors used to repeat a truism: “Statistics are like a bikini; what they reveal are fascinating, but what they conceal is essential.” That has increasingly becoming the case with US economic data, which are leading investors astray with their faulty guidance. It turns out that most government data releases contain a seasonal … [Read more...]

This Party is About to End

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They are really rocking the market today, with the Dow up nearly 200 points off the back of a non-disastrous Chinese GDP growth figure of 7.7%. However, there is a serious disconnect going on in our markets which suggests to me that our own party may be about to end. Yesterday’s blockbuster weekly jobless claim took applications for unemployment benefits down to a four-year … [Read more...]

Thoughts at Sea Aboard the Queen Mary 2, Part I

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Location: 48 degrees, 02.12 minutes North, 043 degrees, 42.08 minutes East, or 1,421 nautical miles ENE of New York. The Queen Mary 2 is currently plowing its way through a massive fog bank a thousand miles thick, sounding the foghorn every two minutes. Visibility is less than 100 yards, and the waves are a rough 12 feet high. The captain has closed the outside decks for … [Read more...]

SOLD OUT Last Chance to Come Join Me for the Paris Strategy Luncheon – July 17, 2012

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Come join me for lunch for the Mad Hedge Fund Trader’s Global Strategy Update, which I will be conducting in Paris on Tuesday, July 17, 2012. A three course lunch will be followed by a PowerPoint presentation and an extended question and answer period. I’ll be giving you my up to date view on stocks, bonds, foreign currencies commodities, precious metals, and real estate. … [Read more...]

Don’t Hold Your Breath for Residential Real Estate

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Every few weeks I get a warm and fuzzy feeling when I see my old house for sale in the Wall Street Journal. I'm sure you've seen it. It's the 8,500 square foot, four bedroom, seven bathroom white elephant perched on a mountain peak, with a dramatic waterfall pouring into a marble swimming pool, and panoramic 360 degree views of the San Francisco Bay Area. I picked it up for … [Read more...]

The Real Estate Market in 2030

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A number of analysts, and even some of those in the real estate industry, are finally coming around to the depressing conclusion that there will never be a recovery in residential real estate. Long time readers of this letter know too well that I have been hugely negative on the sector since late 2005, when I unloaded all of my holdings (click here for ‘The Hard Truth About … [Read more...]

Don’t Miss the July 18 Global Strategy Webinar

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My next global strategy webinar will be held on Tuesday, July 18 at 12:00 noon EST. This webinar will be broadcast live from Frankfurt, Germany. The Germans are pretty good at this technology stuff, so I don’t think that I’ll have any broadcast issues, although I can’t guarantee the sound quality in North Korea, Yemen, or the Darfur. I’ll be giving you my updated outlook on … [Read more...]

Why I Love/Hate the Oil Companies

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The first thing I do when I get up every morning is to curse the oil companies as the blood sucking scourges of modern civilization. I then fall down on my knees and thank God that we have oil companies. You’ve got to love ExxonMobile (XOM). The world’s largest company announced an unbelievable $125 billion in Q2 revenues, generating a gob smacking $10.7 billion in net … [Read more...]

Now Made in China: The Oakland Bay Bridge

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Another great American Icon is falling victim to the collapse of the country’s manufacturing industry. Shanghai Zhenhua Heavy Industries has completed construction of the last of four steel modules for the new Oakland Bay Bridge. The pieces of this giant erector set, which weigh 5,300 tons together, will shortly begin the arduous 22 day journey across the Pacific, baring … [Read more...]

Last Chance to Come Join Me for the London Strategy Luncheon – July 16, 2012

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Come join me for lunch for the Mad Hedge Fund Trader’s Global Strategy Update, which I will be conducting in London on Monday, July 16, 2012. A three course lunch will be followed by a PowerPoint presentation and an extended question and answer period. I’ll be giving you my up to date view on stocks, bonds, currencies commodities, precious metals, and real estate. And to … [Read more...]

Enjoy the Dollar Rally While it Lasts

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Any trader will tell you the trend is your friend, and the overwhelming direction for the US dollar for the last 220 years has been down. Our first Treasury Secretary, Alexander Hamilton, found himself constantly embroiled in sex scandals. Take a ten dollar bill out of your wallet and you’re looking at a world class horn dog, a swordsman of the first order. When he wasn’t … [Read more...]

Who is Ben Bernanke?

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Since nothing less than the fate of the free world depends on the judgment of Ben Bernanke these days, I thought I’d touch base with David Wessel, the Wall Street Journal economics editor, who has just published In Fed We Trust: Ben Bernanke’s War on the Great Panic. I doubted David could tell me anything more about the former Princeton professor I didn’t already know. I … [Read more...]

Why We Need Six New Saudi Arabia’s

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I recently spent an evening with Ambassador Richard Jones, the Deputy Executive Director of the International Energy Agency in Paris, who had some eye opening things to say about the energy space. The IEA was first set up as a counterweight to OPEC during the oil crisis in 1974, and has since evolved into a top drawer energy research organization. World GDP will grow an … [Read more...]

Frankfurt, Germany Strategy Luncheon – July 18, 2012

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Come join me for lunch for the Mad Hedge Fund Trader’s Global Strategy Update, which I will be conducting in Frankfurt, Germany on Wednesday, July 18, 2012. A three course lunch will be followed by a PowerPoint presentation and an extended question and answer period. I’ll be giving you my up to date view on stocks, bonds, foreign currencies, commodities, precious metals, and … [Read more...]

My Briefing from the Joint Chiefs of Staff

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I have always considered the US military to have one of the world’s greatest research organizations. The frustrating thing is that their “clients” only consist of the President and a handful of three and four star generals. So I thought that I would review my notes from a dinner I had with General James E. Cartwright, Vice Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, and known as … [Read more...]

CNN’s John Lewis: the Death of a Colleague

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I was deeply saddened by the death of my old friend, CNN Asia correspondent, John Lewis, a legend in television journalism. I first met John in Tokyo at the Foreign Correspondents' Club of Japan back in 1974, when he was a decorated Vietnam vet from Ohio trying to claw his way into TV, bootstrap style. Personable and easy going, he was one of the few in the club who got … [Read more...]

Diamonds Are Still an Investor’s Best Friend

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Diamonds Are Still an Investor’s Best Friend. If you forgot to buy your loved one a Valentine’s Day gift and spent a week sleeping on the sofa, eating canned food, and cleaning out the cat box, you now have a chance to redeem yourself. A revolutionary new website has just launched called Mazal Diamond, which promises to turn the online jewelry business upside down. I went to … [Read more...]

Iran Should Fold Its Nuclear Program, Or Else

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“We have 3,500 nuclear weapons left over from the cold war we don’t need, they take 20 seconds to re-aim, we’re not afraid to use them, and by the way, they’re already aimed at you.” That is the approach James Baker III thinks America should take with Iran, Ronald Reagan’s Chief of Staff and Secretary of the Treasury, and George H.W. Bush’s Secretary of State. At the same … [Read more...]

Peter F. Drucker on Management

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If you have been living in a cave for the last 72 years and missed the work of management guru, Peter F. Drucker, here is your chance to catch up. I just finished reading The Essential Drucker, a weighty tome of 368 pages which summarized the high points and pearls of wisdom of the author's 38 books published since 1939. A self-described 'social ecologist', Drucker was a … [Read more...]

What Will the World Look Like in 100 Years?

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George Friedman, geopolitical forecaster and founder of the Austin, Texas based private intelligence firm, Strategic Forecasting (Stratfor) (click here for the link at https://www.stratfor.com/ ), delivers a fascinating list of future political, military, and economic scenarios in his new book, The Next 100 years: A Forecast for the 21st Century. Friedman claims the current … [Read more...]

More Hard Truths About Residential Real Estate

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The latest data releases this week about the state of the residential real estate market confirm my belief that the threat of a double dip in the economy is triggering another down leg in home prices (click here for Residential Home Prices in Terms of Gold). The latest Case-Shilelr data show that housing is once again in free fall. Look at the stock chart for Pulte Homes … [Read more...]

The Problem With GM

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Like a heroin addict who just can’t wean himself off of the good stuff, General Motors is going back into subprime lending to finance new auto sales. Although the much diminished company is still largely government owned, and has made great strides at reforming its errant ways, they still do not understand their fundamental problem. My dad was a lifetime GM customer, … [Read more...]

Feel Like Investing in a State Sponsor of Terrorism?

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Feel Like Investing in a State Sponsor of Terrorism? How about a country whose leaders have stolen $400 billion in the last decade and have seen 300 foreign workers kidnapped? Another country lost four wars in the last 40 years. Still interested? How about a country that suffers one of the world’s highest AIDs rates, endures regular insurrections where all of the Westerners get … [Read more...]

Watch International Savings Rates for Market Cues

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Often while searching for a piece of data through Google, I stumble across something else, which is far more interesting. That is how I found the table below of international savings rates. Why should you care? Because countries with high savings rates tend to have strong economies and great stock markets, since there is plenty of excess cash available to pour into … [Read more...]

Guess Who’s Bailing Out the 2012 Olympics?

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Where is the 2012 London Olympics turning to meet gargantuan cost overruns? None other than BP, which is going the extra mile to burnish its tarnished image. With the British economy mired in a vicious financial crisis, many are wondering if hosting the games was such a great idea. The original plan was to convert the one square mile, Lower Lea Valley site into a new suburb, … [Read more...]

Where The Economist “Big Mac” Index Finds Currency Value

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My former employer, The Economist, once the ever tolerant editor of my flabby, disjointed, and juvenile prose (Thanks Peter and Marjorie), has released its “Big Mac” index of international currency valuations (click here for the story). Although initially launched as a joke three decades ago, I have followed it religiously and found it an amazingly accurate predictor of … [Read more...]

Goodbye BRIC, Hello N-11

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Jim O’Neill, the clever Goldman Sachs analyst who came up with the term “BRIC” a decade ago, has cooked up a new, catchy investment theme. Get ready for the “N-11”, shorthand for the “New 11”, a gaggle of early stage emerging markets who will become the inheritors of the BRIC’s high growth rates. The basic idea is to surf a global wave of coming GDP and per capita income rises. … [Read more...]

The Future in Consumer Spending

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As part of my never ending campaign to get you to move more money into emerging markets, please take a look at the chart below from Goldman Sachs. It shows that the global middle class will rise from 1.8 billion today to 4 billion by 2040, with the overwhelming portion of the increase occurring in emerging markets. The chart defines middle class as those earning between … [Read more...]

The History of Technology

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I have just finished leisurely reading Tom Standage’s book The Victorian Internet: The Remarkable Story of the Telegraph and the Nineteenth Century On-Line Pioneers. Standage discusses the creation and development of the telegraph system and how it revolutionized communication in the nineteenth century. The book claims that Modern Internet users are in many ways the heirs of … [Read more...]

The New Cold War

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My friend, Ian Bremmer of the Eurasia Group, a global risk analyst who I regularly follow, will soon publish another book entitled The End of the Free Markets: Who Wins the War Between States and Corporations. I find this highly depressing, as it takes me as long to read one of Ian’s books as it takes him to write another one. To read a review of his highly insightful tome … [Read more...]

SOLD OUT! Last Chance To Come Join Me for the July 5, 2012 New York Strategy Seminar!

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Come join me for the Mad Hedge Fund Trader’s Global Strategy Seminar, which I will be conducting in New York, NY on Thursday, July 5, 2012. Coffee, tea, and soft drinks will be provided, but no food. A PowerPoint presentation will be followed by an extended question and answer period. I’ll be giving you my up to date view on stocks, bonds, foreign currencies, commodities, … [Read more...]

Look at Home Price in Terms of Gold

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Every day, I get pounded by experts who insist that the bottom is here in real estate and that it is time to load the boat. I therefore find the chart below pricing US residential real estate in gold for the last 40 years. After peaking in 2002, house prices have death spiraled 75% when priced in gold, and now are the cheapest they have been since 1983. If the withdrawals of … [Read more...]

The China View from 30,000 Feet

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I have long sat beside the table of Mckinsey & Co., the best management consulting company in Asia, hoping to catch some crumbs of wisdom. So, I jumped at the chance to have breakfast with Shanghai based Worldwide Managing Director, Dominic Barton, when he passed through San Francisco visiting clients. These are usually sedentary affairs, but Dominic spit out fascinating … [Read more...]

The Service Job in Your Future

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Anyone wondering about the long term future of the US economy should take a look at the chart below. It shows the unrelenting growth of services’ share of American GDP growing from 25% to 45% over the last sixty years. Far and away the fastest growth area has been in health care, and with the first Obamacare programs starting in September, that growth is set to accelerate. … [Read more...]

The Hard Truth About Residential Real Estate

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Anyone who believes that housing is on the rebound, and that now is the time to buy, should take a very hard look at the numbers I dredged up for my spring lecture and luncheon tour. There are 140 million personal residences in the US. Today, there are 19 million homes either directly or indirectly for sale. According to a survey by Zillow.com, a real estate appraisal … [Read more...]

The Gold Rush in Iraq

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The success of the recent oil auctions in Iraq is creating a windfall for American oil services companies. Schlumberger (SLB), Baker Hughes (BHI), Weatherford (WFT), and Halliburton (HAL) have committed to drilling 2,500-3,000 new wells per year and building new pipeline and shipping terminal infrastructure that could make the country the world’s largest oil exporter. The … [Read more...]

The US Balance of Payments Surplus in Education

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I spent the weekend attending a graduation in Washington state, a stone’s throw from where the 2010 Winter Olympics were held last year. While sitting through the tedious reading of 550 names, and listening to the wailing bagpipes, I did several calculations on the back of the commencement program. I came to some startling conclusions. Higher education has grown into a … [Read more...]

An Evening With Malcolm Gladwell

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I spent an evening with the New Yorker Magazine columnist, Malcolm Gladwell, author of The Tipping Point, Blink, and Outliers, and probably the most prolific publisher of original, consensus challenging ideas today. Half English and half Jamaican, the preeminent challenger of clichés and stereotypes was himself a cliché and a stereotype, wearing the standard issue New York … [Read more...]