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  • U.S. Economy: The Disconnect Between Reality And Perception [View article]
    Thanks for that, Tom. While I claim to know something about macroeconomics, I am very much an amateur on investments and the inner workings of the financial system, especially compared with some of the folks who hang out on Seeking Alpha. I'd love to hear more about your ideas regarding Blackrock and Vanguard.

    I think if we lived in normal political times there might be the possibility of a Great Compromise on fiscal policy. Republicans have always wanted to abolish the capital gains tax. If the Dems agreed to that in return for some kind of tax on consumption with money rebated to those least well off, then I think the net effect would be to force large amounts of money out of the consumption sector and into the investment sector. But I'm not holding my breath on anything along those lines now. Also, if the U.S. were to get out of the consumtion business who would buy all that Chinese furniture and those German high end cars?
    Nov 19, 2014. 10:06 AM | Likes Like |Link to Comment
  • We Currently Have A Positive Bias On The U.S. Bond Market [View article]
    Interesting observations. I think the author is certainly correct that U.S. economic growth will slow next year. What I can't figure out is whether the stock market has already priced in that decline. If the U.S. grows more slowly next year but still faster than Europe or Japan, what does that imply for stocks? I suspect money will continue to pour into the stock market in search of higher yields.
    Nov 19, 2014. 09:49 AM | Likes Like |Link to Comment
  • U.S. Economy: The Disconnect Between Reality And Perception [View article]
    I personally think Russ is correct that a lack of income growth plays a big part in the present dysphoric mood of most Americans about the future. But I don't think that is the the only factor at work. I think there is also a growing awareness that they have not saved enough for retirement and the belief that, given longer life spans, it may no longer even be possible for the average American to accumulate enough assets in 40 years of work to live 30 or even 35 years in retirement. When they look out into the future they see either an impoverished old age or working until they drop -- that is, if any employer will even want them under those circumstances. That's hardly a psychology that will encourage consumer spending which, of course, makes up 70% of the U.S. economy. What is the solution? I think in the long run we will have to move from a consumption to an investment driven economy, i.e., become more like Germany or China (at least as it was until recently). How we do that I will leave to better minds to figure out.
    Nov 18, 2014. 09:41 AM | Likes Like |Link to Comment
  • Targeted Expenditure Investing For Retirees: What Is It, And How Am I Doing? [View article]

    Thanks for a very illuminating series of articles. I am about 15 months from retirement and your insights have opened up a whole new way of thinking about covering retirement costs for me. You really helped me a lot. Thanks.
    Nov 15, 2014. 06:58 PM | Likes Like |Link to Comment
  • Should Asset Bubbles Be A 'Top Concern'? [View article]
    Great piece, John.
    Nov 15, 2014. 05:22 PM | Likes Like |Link to Comment
  • The Future Value Of The Euro And The Situation In Europe [View article]
    Great article, John. Lots of good sense and clarity. But I worry about the strength of the U.S. dollar if a Tea Party-dominated Republican Congress come November is irresponsible and defaults on U.S Government obligations.
    Oct 25, 2014. 11:38 AM | Likes Like |Link to Comment
  • This Is Why Oil Prices Will Remain Weak For Some Time And Shale Oil Will Get Hurt [View article]
    The assets of the inefficient U.S. shale firms will simply be acquired at discount by the efficient ones. U.S. shale extraction is characterized by low capial costs per unit and high labor inputs. Such businesses can be easily shuttered and reopened when prices rise. The Saudis may gain a costly and temporary win with low prices but in the end they will lose on the U.S. shale front. I'd be pretty worried, however, if I were a Canadian oil sands or Russian arctic producer.
    Oct 18, 2014. 11:03 AM | Likes Like |Link to Comment
  • Economic Analysis: China's Exports Surge [View article]
    Maybe so but who believes official Chinese economic statistics? I recall a conversation a few years ago with an economist from China and when I asked him how much uncertainty was associated with official Chinese economic data, he looked at me puzzled and replied: "our statistics are whatever the Communist Party says they are." I shorted my Chinese stocks immediately and haven't looked back.
    Oct 14, 2014. 12:38 PM | Likes Like |Link to Comment
  • What Really Seems To Be Going On In Europe? [View article]
    I wonder if the author has contemplated what an exchange rate of $1.10 would do to the price of European energy imports? I think a substantial percentage of the competitive advantage Europe might gain from a euro devaluation would be offset by the concomitant increase in American manufacturing price advantage that would result. Not to mention how the already beleagured European public would react to the astronomical increase in their automotive fuel and home heating costs.
    Oct 4, 2014. 12:48 PM | 1 Like Like |Link to Comment
  • Misperceptions About Hayek: A Response To Soros [View article]
    Great article! It's amazing what a little intellectual history will do for clarity and -- dare I say it? -- intellectual integrity. Clearly, Hayek was a thnker sufficiently nuanced that he defies easy categorization or illegitimate apprpriation for ideological purposes.
    Sep 25, 2014. 11:25 AM | 3 Likes Like |Link to Comment
  • Krugman's Latest Debt Denial: Why His Two Magic Numbers Don't Cut It [View article]

    The problem is not debt. It's the ability to service the debt. For years I carried a lot of consumer installment debt until I paid off the plastic peddlers. I never had trouble servicing the debt I had. If we are indeed I a secular stagnation as Larry Summers argues there will be a protracted period of low interest rates.

    I personally think Stockman is playing with outdated models. By the way if we want to pay off the debt more proactively, I find it hard to see how we can do that without serious tax increases. Here's my proposal. Eliminate the tax on capital gains and have a national value added tax with money rebated to the poorest of the poor. We need to force money out of the consumption sector and into the investment sector. It's a disgrace that the American economy is so dependent of consumer spending
    Jul 24, 2014. 10:01 AM | 1 Like Like |Link to Comment