ACTIONABLE ADVICE FOR FINANCIAL ADVISORS: Newsletters and Commentaries Focused on Investment Strategy

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2014-04-30 00:00:00 The Return of the Renminbi Rant by Stephen Roach of Project Syndicate

China?s currency, the renminbi, has been weakening in recent months, resurrecting familiar US charges of official manipulation and beggar-thy-neighbor mercantilism. But this timeworn charge ? politically inspired and grounded in bad economics ? diverts attention from far more important issues affecting the US-China economic relationship.

2014-04-05 00:00:00 The Lions in the Grass, Revisited by John Mauldin of Millennium Wave Advisors

Today we explore a few things we can see and then try to foresee a few things that are not quite so obvious. The simple premise is that it is not the lions we can see lounging in plain view that are the most insidious threat, but rather that in trying to avoid those we may stumble upon lions hidden in the grass.

2014-03-29 00:00:00 When Inequality Isn't by John Mauldin of Millennium Wave Advisors

We’ve discovered so far that income inequality is a fact; however, income mobility has remained roughly the same over the last 40 years. That is, a person’s chances of rising from a lower stratum of wealth distribution to a higher stratum is approximately the same as it was in 1975.

2014-03-16 00:00:00 Inequality and Opportunity by John Mauldin of Millennium Wave Advisors

Today we will continue our thinking about income inequality, and I will respond to some of your letters, as they make good launching points for further discussion of the topic.

2014-03-09 00:00:00 The Problem with Keynesianism by John Mauldin of Millennium Wave Advisors

Keynes himself would appreciate the irony that he has become the defunct economist under whose influence the academic and bureaucratic classes now toil, slaves to what has become as much a religious belief system as it is an economic theory. Men and women who display an appropriate amount of skepticism on all manner of other topics indiscriminately funnel a wide assortment of facts and data through the filter of Keynesianism without ever questioning its basic assumptions. And then some of them go on to prescribe government policies that have profound effects upon the citizens of their nations.

2014-02-20 00:00:00 Meeting an Economic Need by William Smead of Smead Capital Management

At heart, Smead Capital Management is a stock picking organization. On top of our bottoms-up stock picking discipline, we are driven by our belief and respect for the laws of economics. One example of this is the subject of demographics. As long-duration investors, we want to understand where the aging process is taking demand in major product categories and how it will shape spending and production in the US. In other words, what economic needs will grow at the margin and who out there among companies that fit our other seven criteria can meet that marginal demand.

2014-02-15 00:00:00 The Economic Singularity by John Mauldin of Millennium Wave Advisors

Today, let’s think about central banks and liquidity traps and see if we agree that central bankers are driving the car from the back seat based upon a fundamentally flawed theory of how the world works. That theory helped produce the wreck that was the Great Recession and will have its fingerprints all over the next one.

2014-02-09 00:00:00 A Most Dangerous Era by John Mauldin of Millennium Wave Advisors

This week we were confronted with a rather troubling appendix in the Congressional Budget Office (CBO) analysis of the Affordable Care Act, which suggests that the act will have a rather profound impact on employment patterns.

2014-01-25 00:00:00 Forecast 2014: The CAPEs of Hope by John Mauldin of Millennium Wave Advisors

As we will see in the pages ahead, buy-and-hold investors are clearly sailing in dangerous waters, where the strong, cold current of deleveraging converges with the warm, fast rush of quantitative easing. Not only does this clash of forces create the potential for epic storms and fateful accidents, it dramatically increases the chances for sudden loss as rogue waves crash unwary investment vehicles against the underwater demographic reef!

2014-01-18 00:00:00 Forecast 2014: 'Mark Twain!' by John Mauldin of Millennium Wave Advisors

The surface of the market waters looks smooth, but the data above suggest caution as we proceed. Perhaps slowing the engine and taking more frequent soundings (or putting in closer stops!) might be in order. The cry should be "Mark twain!" Let’s steam ahead but take more frequent readings and know that a course correction may soon be necessary.

2014-01-12 00:00:00 Forecast 2014: The Killer Ds by John Mauldin of Millennium Wave Advisors

We’ll continue our three-part 2014 forecast series this week by looking at the significant economic macrotrends that have to be understood, as always, as the context for any short-term forecast. These are the forces that are going to inexorably shift and shape our portfolios and businesses. Each of the nine macrotrends I’ll mention deserves its own book (and I’ve written books about two of them and numerous letters on most of them), but we’ll pause to gaze briefly at each as we scan the horizon.

2014-01-06 00:00:00 Foreign-Aid Follies by Kenneth Rogoff of Project Syndicate

The huge gap between the world’s richest and poorest countries remains one of the great moral dilemmas for the West. It also poses one of the toughest questions for development economics: Do we really know how to help countries overcome poverty?

2014-01-04 00:00:00 Forecast 2014: The Human Transformation Revolution by John Mauldin of Millennium Wave Advisors

It is that time of the year when we peer into our darkened crystal balls in hopes of seeing portents of the future in the shadowy mists. This year I see three distinct wisps of vapor coalescing in the coming years. Each deserves its own treatment, so this year the annual forecast issue will in fact be three separate weekly pieces.

2013-12-07 00:00:00 Interview with Steve Forbes by John Mauldin of Millennium Wave Advisors

For whatever reason, Steve Forbes seems to bring out the passion in me. When I think about what central bank policies are doing to savers and investors, how we are screwing around with the pension system, circumventing rational market expectations because of an untested economic theory held by a relatively small number of academics, I get a little exercised. And Steve gives me the freedom to do it.

2013-11-24 00:00:00 Game of Thrones - European Style by John Mauldin of Millennium Wave Advisors

The Eurozone crisis is not over, and it will not end quickly or soon. Even if it seems to unfold in slow motion - like the slow build-up in a Game of Thrones storyline to violent internecine clashes followed by more slow plot developments but never any resolution, the Eurozone debacle has never really gone away. The structural imbalances have still not been fixed; politicians and central bankers have still not agreed to solve major fiscal problems; the overall economy still disintegrates; unemployment is staggeringly high in some countries and still rising; and the people are growing restless.

2013-11-17 00:00:00 The Unintended Consequences of ZIRP by John Mauldin of Millennium Wave Advisors

Two recently released papers make an intellectual and theoretical case for an extended period of very low interest rates and, in combination with other papers from both inside and outside the Fed from heavyweight economists, make a strong case for beginning to taper sooner rather than later, but for accompanying that tapering with a commitment to an even more protracted period of ZIRP. We are going analyze these papers, as they are critical to understanding the future direction of Federal Reserve policy. Secondly, we’ll look at some of the unintended consequences of long-term ZIRP.

2013-11-06 00:00:00 Is Economics a Science? by Robert Shiller of Project Syndicate

Though economics presents its own methodological problems, the basic challenges facing researchers are not fundamentally different from those faced by researchers in other fields. As economics develops, it will broaden its methods and sources of evidence, the science will become stronger, and the charlatans will be exposed.

2013-10-20 00:00:00 The Damage to the US Brand by John Mauldin of Millennium Wave Advisors

There is no doubt that the image what I will refer to in this letter as the "brand" of the United States has been damaged in the past month. But what are the actual costs? And what does it matter to the average citizen? Can the US recover its tarnished image and go on about business as usual? Is the recent dysfunction in Washington DC now behind us, or is it destined to become part of a bleaker landscape?

2013-10-12 00:00:00 Sometimes They Ring a Bell by John Mauldin of Millennium Wave Advisors

Three items have come across my screen in the past month that, taken together, truly do signal a major turning point in how energy is discovered, transported, and transformed. And while we’ll start with a story that most of us are somewhat aware of, there is an even larger transformation happening that I think argues against the negative research that has come out in the last few years about the reduced potential for growth in the world economy.

2013-10-05 00:00:00 The Road to a New Medical Order by John Mauldin of Millennium Wave Advisors

I will aim to dwell simply on the economic ramifications of the implementation of the Affordable Care Act, as it exists today. We are changing the plumbing on 17.9% of the US GDP in profound ways. Many, if not most, of the changes are absolutely necessary.

2013-09-25 00:00:00 Japanese Equities: Is the Bear Market Over? by Mark Ungewitter of Charter Trust Company

Japanese equities have spent the last twenty-four years in a secular bear market defined by lower lows and lower highs in market price. There is now hope that a new Prime Minister, and a new brand of economics, will reverse this multi-decade trend.

2013-09-21 00:00:00 Rich City, Poor City by John Mauldin of Millennium Wave Advisors

This week we will conclude our look at pension plans for the nonce with a 30,000-foot overview of the states and then take a deeper dive into one city: mine. This will give you at least one version of how to do your own homework about your own hometown. But fair warning, depending on your locale, you may need medical help or significant quantities of an adult beverage after you finish your research.

2013-09-07 00:00:00 Unrealistic Expectations by John Mauldin of Millennium Wave Advisors

Two well-respected analysts of pension funds have produced reports this summer suggesting that pensions are now underfunded by more than $4 trillion and possibly more than $5 trillion. I would like to tell you that the underfunding is all the bad news, but when you probe deeper into the problems facing pension funds, it just gets worse.

2013-08-31 00:00:00 How Do I Hate Thee? by John Mauldin of Millennium Wave Advisors

I will list a number of reasons why I hate this market and then suggest a few reasons why that should get you excited. We will look at some charts, and I’ll briefly comment on them. No deep dives this week, just a survey of the general landscape.

2013-08-25 00:00:00 France: On the Edge of the Periphery by John Mauldin of Millennium Wave Advisors

Charles de Gaulle said that "France cannot be France without greatness." The current path that France is on will not take it to renewed greatness but rather to insolvency and turmoil. Is France destined to be grouped with its Mediterranean peripheral cousins, or to be seen as part of the solid North Atlantic core? The world is far better off with a great France, but France can achieve greatness only by its own actions.

2013-08-17 00:00:00 Signs of the Top by John Mauldin of Millennium Wave Advisors

The investment media seems obsessed with the question of whether the Fed will taper. The real question should be not about "tapering" but about credibility. What happens when fundamentals become the narrative as opposed to what the central bank is doing? What happens if the Federal Reserve throws a liquidity party and nobody comes? Today we look at some of the fundamentals. The market is in fact overvalued, but that doesn’t mean it can’t become more overvalued. Is this August 1987 or August 1999?

2013-08-10 00:00:00 We Can't Take the Chance by John Mauldin of Millennium Wave Advisors

What would it have been like to be a central banker in the midst of the crisis in 2008-09? You’d know that you won’t have the luxury of going back and making better decisions five years later. Instead, you have to act on the torrent of information that’s coming at you, and none of it is good. Major banks are literally collapsing, the interbank market is nonexistent and there is panic in the air. Perhaps you feel that panic in the pit of your stomach. This week we’ll perform a little thought experiment to see if we can extrapolate what is likely to happen in when the nex

2013-07-27 00:00:00 A Lost Generation by John Mauldin of Millennium Wave Advisors

This week we will briefly look at why weak consumer spending is going to become an even greater problem in the coming years, and we will continue to look at some disturbing trends in employment.

2013-07-13 00:00:00 The Bang! Moment Shock by John Mauldin of Millennium Wave Advisors

This week we resume our musings about Cyprus, to see what that tiny island can teach us about our own personal need to engage in ongoing critical analysis of our lives and investment portfolios. Cyprus is not Greece or France or Spain or Japan or the US or (pick a country). I get that. No two situations are the same, but there may be a rhyme or two here that is instructive.

2013-07-10 00:00:00 Employer Mandate: A Pharma Bump in the Road by Bill Smead of Smead Capital Management

As long-duration value investors, we at Smead Capital Management have been very attracted to the conservative accounting, shareholder friendly dividends/buybacks and bright pipeline futures of major pharmaceutical/biotech companies like Merck (MRK), Pfizer (PFE) and Amgen (AMGN). Lately, there has been weakness in these shares and we’d like to review our best theory for recent fears and price weakness, while reviewing the merit of these high quality shares.

2013-07-01 00:00:00 "This Country is Different" by John Mauldin of Millennium Wave Advisors

Cyprus is a very small country, some 800,000 people. Among the leadership, everyone knows everyone. There is much to admire, as we will see. But Cyprus has had a gut-wrenching crisis, proportionately more dire than any in other European countries recently; and precedents are being established here for how future problems will be dealt with in the Eurozone and elsewhere.

2013-06-15 00:00:00 Economists Are (Still) Clueless by John Mauldin of Millennium Wave Advisors

The economic forecasts of mainstream economists are quite positive, if not enirely optimistic, reflecting the current data. Should we not take heart from that? Alas, no. This week we look at some of our recent musings on that topic, triggered by a letter from a very serious economist who took umbrage when I wrote disparagingly about economists and forecasting a couple months ago.

2013-06-08 00:00:00 Banzai! Banzai! Banzai! by John Mauldin of Millennium Wave Advisors

In practice it may be harder for Japan to grow and generate inflation than it might be for other major nations. Today we’ll focus on Japanese demographics. While the letter is full of graphs and charts, it does not paint a pretty picture. The forces of deflation will not go gently into that good night.

2013-06-01 00:00:00 Central Bankers Gone Wild by John Mauldin of Millennium Wave Advisors

For the last two weeks we have focused on the problems facing Japan, and such is the importance of Japan to the world economy that this week we will once again turn to the Land of the Rising Sun. I will try to summarize the situation facing the Japanese. This is critical to understand, because they are determined to share their problems with the world, and we will have no choice but to deal with them. Japan is going to affect your economy and your investments, no matter where you live; Japan is that important.

2013-05-25 00:00:00 The Mother of All Painted-In Corners by John Mauldin of Millennium Wave Advisors

Japan has painted itself into the mother all corners. There will be no clean or easy exit. There is going to be massive economic pain as they the Japanese try and find a way out of their problems, and sadly, the pain will not be confined to Japan. This will be the true test of the theories of neo-Keynesianism writ large. Japan is going to print and monetize and spend more than almost any observer can currently imagine. You like what Paul Krugman prescribes? You think he makes sense? You (we all!) are going to be participants in a real-world experiment on how that works out.

2013-04-20 00:00:00 Austerity is a Consequence, not a Punishment by John Mauldin of Millennium Wave Advisors

Austerity is a consequence, not a punishment. A country loses access to cheap borrowed money as a consequence of running up too much debt and losing the confidence of lenders that the debt can be repaid. Lenders don’t sit around in clubs and discuss how to “punish” a country by requiring austerity; they simply decide not to lend. Austerity is a result of a country’s trying to entice lenders into believing that the country will change and make an effort to restore confidence.

2013-03-06 00:00:00 Pain Aversion by Pamela Rosenau of HighTower Advisors

As the equity market continues to rally, the consensus among investors has called for a 3-5% pullback. Unfortunately for the market bears, "the pain trade remains higher right now." There are many who claim that equities are "overbought" or that stocks are "too extended." As market strategist Barry Ritholtz stated, "We find it hard to believe that after hiding under a rock for nearly five years, that a few months of equity inflows means investors have gone from petrified to exuberant. That process in our opinion is a longer arc, not a singular event."

2013-01-29 00:00:00 Economics and the Maximization of Profit (and Lies). by Dan Ariely of Dan Ariely Blog

When a friend sent me this paper the other day, I admit that I took a long hard look at myself and my economist friends. According to this study, economists, it seems, are worse than most when it comes to truth telling. This discovery was made by researchers Ral Lpez-Prez and Eli Spiegelman, who wanted to examine whether certain characteristics (for instance religiosity or gender) made people averse to lying. They measured the preference for honesty by canceling out other motivations, such as altruism or fear of getting caught.

2013-01-02 00:00:00 The Unstarvable Beast by Kenneth Rogoff of Project Syndicate

As US President in the 1980's, the conservative icon Ronald Reagan described his approach to fiscal policy as "starve the beast": cutting taxes will eventually force people to accept less government spending. So why has the cost of government not only in the US continued to rise inexorably?


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