Commentary

Notes from Lockdown

The new coronavirus is touching us all, one way or another. The virus is infectious but so are the preventative measures. Today I’ll continue last week’s “postcard” format and at the end give you a lightening round of things I have come across, some good and some not. I hope some of what I tell you makes you as angry as it does me.

Commentary

Postcards from the Frontline

With the economic and market situation changing by the day, I decided to approach this letter a little differently. Rather than go deep on one topic, I’ll share brief bullets on the many points swirling in my mind. Think of it as Postcards from the Frontline. These will be in no particular order and may generate even more questions.

Commentary

The Beacons Are Lit

Today in the real world, we also face a dark, implacable, powerful foe. It is a microscopic virus that we now know is a threat, a very serious one. We in the United States have just seen the beacons. The warning travelled not just a few hundred miles but around the world: from China and Korea, to Italy and Spain, and now here.

Commentary

Coronavirus Is Not an Emergency. It’s a War.

This is a short midweek note, something I haven’t done for years. But as we all know, these are very special and difficult times. I’ll give you two links. They describe the nature of the new coronavirus pandemic and its potential consequences. I have run this past the best medical professionals I know, and they agree.

Commentary

Coronavirus Helicopter Money

The coronavirus could take us all someplace we really don’t want to go.

Commentary

Chinese Coronavirus Changeup

There are things we can do to help. I’ll mention one big idea at the end of this letter. But first, we’ll take a closer look at what happened in China and how it affects the world economy.

Commentary

COVID-19: A Crisis the Fed Can’t Fix

First, this is going to be a long slog. The virus will spread slowly but widely. The containment measures are simply buying time. There’s no need to panic, but we should all take common-sense protective measures. Second, as usual, I am the “Muddle Through guy.”

Commentary

Why Americans Want Socialism

I don’t believe they really want socialism. Few even understand what it is. What they want is change. They see little hope for improvement in their situations, no matter how hard they work and sacrifice. They don’t see anyone in authority trying to help them. So, when someone offers what sound like easy answers, they jump aboard.

Commentary

Depending on the Undependable

Today we’ll extend the GDP discussion, looking at where these numbers originate, what they miss, and what the Fed in particular does with them. As you’ll see, we need better data… but it’s not at all clear Fed officials would use such data correctly, even if they had it.

Commentary

The Hits to GDP

Today I want to look at some aspects of GDP we rarely consider, thinking about how they affect our analysis and choices. But first, let’s talk about where GDP is now and where it may go in the near future.

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Dismissing the Experts

As you will see today, sometimes I get it really, badly, completely wrong. Thankfully, not too often.

Commentary

Nose Blind to Inflation

The Federal Reserve doesn’t see the inflation others notice. Their data says inflation isn’t a problem, so they ignore indications otherwise. We see this in their policy decisions. And it’s not just the Fed; other central banks, Wall Street analysts, economists, and politicians have the same affliction.

Commentary

Looking on the Bright Side

Good things are happening, too, and will keep happening as we move through the 2020s. Occasionally I like to note them, and that’s what we will do today.

Commentary

Decade of Living Dangerously, Part 2

In Part 1 of this forecast I described my relatively benign outlook for the next 12 months. The calm may last into 2021 and even beyond. But beneath the surface, pressure will still be increasing. It will grow slowly, almost imperceptibly, but eventually explode.

Commentary

Decade of Living Dangerously, Part 1

Welcome to the 2020s. Some weren’t sure we would make it this far, but we did. Now we face a new decade and new challenges. How we handle them will determine what kind of conversation we have in 2030.