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November 10, 2017 | The Distribution of Pain

When you write about economics, you learn very quickly that the economy doesn’t care what you say about it. The forces that drive it are beyond any one person’s comprehension, much less control. But at the same time, the economy doesn’t work like a law of nature. Unlike gravity, for instance, the economy responds to […]

October 23, 2017 | Rethinking Education

This week’s letter will be more like an Outside the Box than a Thoughts from the Frontline. I am feeling under the weather, and while I can read and move around somewhat, I am really not thinking all that well and am not up to wasting your time writing a letter that neither you nor […]

October 15, 2017 | The World Turned Upside Down

Strange things did happen here No stranger would it be If we met at midnight In the hanging tree. – Lyrics from the theme song of The Hunger Games If buttercups buzz’d after the bee, If boats were on land, churches on sea, If ponies rode men and if grass ate the cows, And cats […]

October 8, 2017 | Uncle Sam’s Unfunded Promises

Here’s a surprisingly profound question: What is a promise? Dictionaries offer various definitions. I like this one: “An express assurance on which expectation is to be based.” Image: Simon James via Flickr That definition captures the two-sided nature of a promise. One party offers an assurance, which the other converts into an expectation. You deposit […]

October 1, 2017 | Global Retirement Reality

Today we’ll continue to size up the bull market in governmental promises. As we do so, keep an old trader’s slogan in mind: “That which cannot go on forever, won’t.” Or we could say it differently: An unsustainable trend must eventually stop. Lately I have focused on the trend in US public pension funds, many […]

September 25, 2017 | Build Your Economic Storm Shelter Now

If you’re idly conversing with someone you don’t know well, the weather is usually a safe topic. It affects everyone in some way, so it’s a shared experience – but there’s something else, too. The weather is no one’s fault. It is what it is, so you need not worry that the other person will […]

September 17, 2017 | Pension Storm Warning

This time is different are the four most dangerous words any economist or money manager can utter. We learn new things and invent new technologies. Players come and go. But in the big picture, this time is usually not fundamentally different, because fallible humans are still in charge. (Ken Rogoff and Carmen Reinhart wrote an […]

September 11, 2017 | The Future of the Global Economy

If you establish a democracy, you must in due time reap the fruits of a democracy. You will in due season have great impatience of public burdens, combined in due season with great increase of public expenditure. You will in due season have wars entered into from passion and not from reason… – Benjamin Disraeli, […]

September 3, 2017 | Colorado Scattershots

Ask a child what he or she wants to be when they grow up, and you’ll probably get a standard answer: firefighter, doctor, teacher – all occupations we learn to recognize at an early age. Rarely do you hear a young one say, “I want to be a writer.” I don’t recall ever saying it. […]

August 27, 2017 | All Things Bullish

“Bull markets are born on pessimism, grow on skepticism, mature on optimism, and die on euphoria.” – Sir John Templeton Dogs bark, birds sing, stock markets (and stocks themselves) fluctuate. Bonds, commodities, currencies, and all else that moves in the economic world will fluctuate. Only the economic market, however, transforms into a new beast when […]

August 21, 2017 | All Things Bearish

“There is only one side of the market and it is not the bull side or the bear side but the right side.” – Jesse Livermore “At least us old men remember what a real bear market is like. The young men haven’t got a clue.” – Jeremy Grantham Image: John Solaro via Flickr With […]

August 13, 2017 | What I Learned at (Economics) Summer Camp

All over America, kids who were fortunate enough to go to summer camp are busy telling mom and dad what they did. Their stories will be suspiciously incomplete, but that’s OK. We know they learned something. Well, I went to camp this summer, too. I go every year, and I always learn more than I […]

August 6, 2017 | Hot Summer Mailbag

Perhaps the best part of being a writer is the chance to interact with readers. I can’t tell you how much I’ve learned from you over the years. Whether it’s through our online comment threads or emails or conversations in the hallway at a conference, nothing pleases me more than to share thoughts with you. […]

July 30, 2017 | Happiness Is a Normal Yield Curve

“I never liked quantitative easing. Flattening the yield curve is not stimulative; flattening the yield curve is anti-stimulative.” – Ken Fisher “There is a limit to how much the United States Treasury can borrow.” – Alan Greenspan “In other words, we have the models we have because of inertia and theology, but also because all […]

July 23, 2017 | Three Black Swans

“The world in which we live has an increasing number of feedback loops, causing events to be the cause of more events (say, people buy a book because other people bought it), thus generating snowballs and arbitrary and unpredictable planet-wide winner-take-all effects.” – Nassim Nicholas Taleb, The Black Swan “What do you do?” is a […]

July 19, 2017 | Trade War Games

“We’re already in a trade war with China. The problem is we’ve not been fighting back.” – Peter Navarro “The battle for Helm’s Deep is over. The battle for Middle Earth is about to begin.” – Gandalf the White Image: Wikimedia Commons This letter should find you buckled in for the turbulence I described last […]

July 9, 2017 | Prepare for Turbulence

“The job of the central bank is to worry.” – Alice Rivlin “The central bank needs to be able to make policy without short-term political concerns.” – Ben Bernanke “… from the standpoint of the overall economy, my bottom line is we’re watching it closely but it appears to be contained. – Ben Bernanke, repeatedly, […]

July 2, 2017 | The Wedge Goes Deeper

“Nearly all men can stand adversity, but if you want to test a man’s character, give him power.” – Abraham Lincoln “If more of us valued food and cheer and song above hoarded gold, it would be a merrier world.” – J.R.R. Tolkien Photo credit: JJMustang_79 via Flickr PUBLISHER’S NOTE: John Mauldin is off this […]

June 26, 2017 | Mad Hawk Disease Strikes Federal Reserve

“A serious writer may be a hawk or a buzzard or even a popinjay, but a solemn writer is always a bloody owl.” – Ernest Hemingway Image: Magalle L’Abbe via Flickr Welcome to the new, improved, faster-to-read, better yet still-free Thoughts from the Frontline. My team and I have been doing a lot of research on what […]

June 18, 2017 | The Next Minsky Moment

“China’s economy has entered a state of new normal.” – Premier Li Keqiang, 2015 “Success breeds a disregard of the possibility of failure.” – Hyman Minsky Welcome to the new, improved, faster-to-read, better yet still-free Thoughts from the Frontline. My team and I have been doing a lot of research on what my readers want. The reality […]

June 11, 2017 | What, Me Worry?

“Forget the past. The future will give you plenty to worry about.” – George Allen, Sr. “I try not to worry about the future, so I take each day just one anxiety attack at a time.” – Tom Wilson Welcome to the new, improved, faster-to-read, better yet still-free Thoughts from the Frontline. My team and […]

June 4, 2017 | Can You Afford to Reach 100?

“I often joke that 100 years from now I hope people are saying, ‘Dang, she looks good for her age!’” – Dolly Parton “Just because you live 20 years or 100 years doesn’t make it less meaningful. They’re both short amounts of time. So all we can do is just live in that time, whatever […]

May 28, 2017 | The Great Reset, Part Two

“Premature optimization is the root of all evil…” – Donald Knuth, from his 1974 Turing Award lecture This is the second of two letters that I think will be among the most important I’ve ever written. These letters set out my philosophy about how we have to invest in the coming days and years. They […]

May 22, 2017 | The Great Reset: How Should We Then Invest?

“A speculator is one who runs risks of which he is aware, and an investor is one who runs risks of which he is unaware.” – John Maynard Keynes “The biggest mistake investors make is to believe that what happened in the recent past is likely to persist. They assume that something that was a […]

May 15, 2017 | How to Drink from a Firehose

Basic economics tells us all resources are scarce, but our demand for them is not. Hence we need methods to allocate the limited supply of each resource. A significant part of economics is the study of those methods. One exception to the rule, though, has developed in the last few years: The amount of information […]

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