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January 21, 2018 | A Fly in the Economic Ointment?

The holidays are fading from memory, and 2018 is off to a good start, economically speaking. Most of the forecasts I’ve read expect a good year – not a blockbuster year or a horrendous one, but a mild pickup that ought to satisfy investors. Even the bears seem less confident than usual. The holidays are […]

January 13, 2018 | Year of the Octopus, Part 2

Only two weeks in and 2018 is already breaking records – mostly in a good way. But that leaves 50 potentially less enjoyable weeks to go. So rather than focus on promising current events, I think I’d better dip back into my annual forecast bag and share a few more highlights with you. Getty Images […]

January 7, 2018 | Year of the Octopus, Part 1

Greetings from Hong Kong, where the locals are preparing to welcome the new year on February 16. While 2018 is the Year of the Dog on the traditional Chinese calendar, on the nontraditional Mauldin calendar we call it the Year of the Octopus. I don’t know exactly what’s coming, but I’m pretty sure it has […]

December 31, 2017 | Economy on a Roll

In addition to popping champagne corks and black-eyed peas (at least in the South) on New Year’s Day, year-end brings something else for economists and portfolio managers: annual forecasts. People want to know what the coming year will bring. I would like to know, too. But since I’m on the other side of your monitor, […]

December 17, 2017 | Why 2017 Was a Year to Celebrate

The holidays always prompt us to look both forward and back. Soon you’ll start seeing 2018 forecasts. I’ll review some of them for you and give you my own in the coming weeks. But first, I want to take a look back at 2017 – and do it a little differently. In certain circles I’ve […]

December 10, 2017 | Automatic Job Storm Coming

Almost every weekday, some arm of the US government issues some sort of economic statistic. News media and financial analysts review and report it. Then 99.9% of the adult population, and probably 90% of the financial industry, forget all about it. And they’re probably right to do so. The monthly jobs report isn’t like that. […]

December 3, 2017 | Renovating the Fed

Earnings don’t move the overall market; it’s the Federal Reserve Board…. Focus on the central banks and focus on the movement of liquidity…. Most people in the market are looking for earnings and conventional measures. It’s liquidity that moves markets. – Stan Druckenmiller (hat tip Steve Blumenthal) The Federal Reserve will soon have a new […]

November 27, 2017 | The Bonfire Burns On

“Life invests itself with inevitable conditions, which the unwise seek to dodge, which one and another brags that he does not know, that they do not touch him; but the brag is on his lips, the conditions are in his soul. If he escapes them in one part they attack him in another more vital […]

November 19, 2017 | Bonfire of the Absurdities

“Vanity of vanities, saith the Preacher, vanity of vanities; all is vanity.” – Ecclesiastes 1:2, King James Version (attributed to King Solomon in his old age) This week’s letter will take a look at the growing number of ridiculous, inane, and otherwise nonsensical absurdities that fill the daily economic headlines. I have gone from the […]

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 […]

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