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The Periphery is Failing

The next big economic dislocation might be only weeks away
Tuesday, August 27, 2013, 4:04 PM

For years we've preached the From the Outside In principle of markets: When trouble starts, it nearly always does so out in the weaker periphery before creeping towards the core.

We saw this in the run-up to the housing bubble collapse, as sub-prime mortgages gave way before prime loans, and in Europe, as smaller economies like Greece, Ireland, and Cyprus have fallen first and hardest (so far).  We see this today in accelerating food stamp use among poorer U.S. households.  In each case, the weaker economic parties give way first before being followed, over time, by the stronger ones.

Using this framework, we can often get several weeks to several months of advance notice before trouble erupts in the next ring closer to the center.

Which makes today notable, as we're receiving a number of new warning signs.  The periphery is giving way. » Read more

Blog

2012 Year in Review

Free markets, rule of law, and other urban legends
Friday, December 21, 2012, 3:34 PM

Background

I was just trying to figure it all out.

~ Michael Burry, hedge fund manager

Every December, I write a Year in Review that has now found a home at Chris Martenson’s website PeakProsperity.com.1,2,3 What started as a simple summary intended for a couple dozen people morphed over time into a much more detailed account that accrued over 25,000 clicks last year.4 'Year in Review' is a bit of a misnomer in that it is both a collage of what happened, plus a smattering of issues that are on my radar right now. As to why people care what an organic chemist thinks about investing, economics, monetary policy, and societal moods I can only offer a few thoughts.

For starters, in 33 years of investing with a decidedly undiversified portfolio, I had only one year in which my total wealth decreased in nominal dollars. For the 13 years beginning 01/01/00—the 13 toughest investing years of the new millennium!—I have been able to compound my personal wealth at an 11% annualized rate. This holds up well against the pros. I am also fairly good at distilling complexity down to simplicity and seem to be a congenital contrarian. I also have been a devout follower of Austrian business cycle theory—i.e., free market economics—since the late 1990s.4

Each review begins with a highly personalized analysis of my efforts to get through another year of investing followed by a more holistic overview of what is now a 33-year quest for a ramen-soup-free retirement. These details may be instructive for those interested in my approach to investing. The bulk of the review, however, describes thoughts and observations—the year’s events told as a narrative. The links are copious, albeit not comprehensive. Some are flagged with enthusiasm. Everything can be found here.5 » Read more