In his July 17th Blog, Let's Get Real About Gold, author and Wall Street Journal columnist Jason Zweig likened investor interest in gold with the "Pet Rock" craze of the 1970's, when consumers became convinced that a rock in a box would provide continuous companionship, elevate their social standing, and give them something hip to talk about at parties.
While Greece is now dominating the debt default stage, the real tragedy is playing out much closer to home, with the downward spiral of Puerto Rico.
The past four years or so have been extremely frustrating for investors like me who have structured their portfolios around the belief that the current experiments in central bank stimulus, the anti-business drift in Washington, and America's mediocre economy and unresolved debt issues would push down the value of the dollar, push up commodity prices, and favor assets in economies with relatively low debt levels and higher GDP growth.
It is well known that I don't think much of the ability of government officials to correctly forecast much of anything.
ust as the steady torrent of awful economic data, which began in the First Quarter and continued well into April and May, had forced many market analysts to grudgingly concede that 2015 would not see the robust economic growth that most had expected, the statisticians arrived on the scene like a cavalry charge and routed the forces of pessimism with a wave of their spreadsheets.
We live in an age where bad economic news is not only unwelcome, but it is routinely overlooked or excused.
Over the past decade or so, "transparency" has become one of the buzzwords that has guided the Federal Reserve's culture.
Although China's economy has been leading the world in annualized growth since the days that mobile phones had retractable antennas, there have always been some aspects of the country's commercial and financial system that loudly broadcast the underlying illogic of a Communist Party's firm control of burgeoning capitalism.
Last week the Fed Chairwoman treated us to a master class of rhetorical misdirection which produced some memorable examples of doublespeak.
I have always argued that quantitative easing and zero percent interest rates were misguided policies to combat economic weakness. But as the years went on, misguided turned into irresponsible, which led to ridiculous, and then turned into dangerous.
High degrees of certainty can be dangerous. Herd mentality can cause investors to chase returns en masse and pile into positions that may already be overvalued.
Last week a scene unfolded in Athens, largely unnoticed by American eyes, that provided all the visual and metaphorical symbols needed to define the current state of the global economy.
If anyone had any doubt how severely the global economy has been distorted by the actions of central bankers, the "surprise" announcement last week by the Swiss National Bank (SNB) to no longer peg the Swiss franc to the euro should provide a moment of crystal clarity.
By ending its three year currency peg to the weakening euro, Switzerland has become the first major economy to surrender in the international currency war, and in so doing has given a long-delayed victory to the Swiss people.
The sudden fall in the price of oil provides a unique opportunity to examine the widely held belief that deflation is economic poison.
In normal economic times falling energy costs would be considered unadulterated good news. The facts are simple. No one buys a barrel of oil to display above the mantle.
The stunning 40% drop in the price of oil over the past few months has scrambled global economic forecasts, changed the geo-political landscape, and has severely pressured many energy sector investments. Economists are scratching their heads to determine if the drop is good or bad...
There can be little doubt that data releases, rather than experience or intuition, are driving the economic conversation. This is perhaps a function of the disconnection that many people feel about an economy that they no longer understand.
Recent statements by Federal Reserve officials would lead just about anyone to believe that one of the bank's central missions has always been to guard against the lurking threat of deflation.