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Here is some excellent reading from John Maludin from Investor Insight. Please see below for more information in regards and links to further materials.

John Mauldin is a multiple NYT Best Selling author and recognized financial expert. He has been heard on CNBC, Bloomberg and many radio shows across the country. He is the editor of the highly acclaimed, free weekly economic and investment e-letter that goes to over 1 million subscribers each week.

“Last week I outlined three possible paths for the economy based upon the political
choices we make about the budget deficits.

First, there is the benign path, where we more or less roll back the Bush tax cuts,
and do not increase spending for new programs. The fiscal deficit falls into a manageable
range. We repeat the Clinton years where spending is help below increase in revenue so
that over time the budget gets balanced. While a large tax increase would have negative
consequences for the overall economy, it is far better than the other two paths strictly
from the perspective of growing the economy as much as possible. This path also has a
very small probability.

The second path is that the Obama budget is passed, the Bush tax cuts go away
and we have a decade of projected trillion dollar deficits. By the way, those deficits
assume 3% growth rates, low unemployment, low interest rates and very large health care
savings, and a withdrawal from Iraq and Afghanistan. The deficits are likely to be MUCH
larger then the CBO forecasts. This on top of exploding entitlement expenditures in the
middle of the next decade, which are underscored in the opinion of more conservative
analysts (including me).

The third path is the same as above expect that large new taxes are passed in order
to bring the deficit to a manageable size relative to the growth of GDP. This means that a
tax increase over and above those projected by the Obama administration of around $700
billion a year (about 5% of GDP!). Deficits would still be in the $3-400 billion range, but
from a funding perspective, it could be done.

The second path is one that will end in heart ache. I do not think that the world or
even US investors can buy multiple trillions of dollars of debt for more than a few years
without rates rising significantly. That, as Gross points out, will affect both businesses
and mortgage borrowers. It is a disastrous train wreck.

The third path is the more likely. I think (hope?) there are enough economically
conservative Democratic that will realize the problems of trillion dollar deficits. But they
do want a fully nationalized health care, and thus they will pass enough in taxes to pay
for it. If they are going to do it, this is their one chance, as Republicans are likely to do
better in the 2010 elections and get enough votes to push back any real tax increases other
than letting the Bush tax cuts expire.”

John Mauldin, Best-Selling author and recognized financial expert, is also editor of the free Thoughts From the Frontline that goes to over 1 million readers each week. For more information on John or his FREE weekly economic letter go to: http://www.frontlinethoughts.com/learnmore

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Here is an analysis by John Mauldin at InvestorInsight. It was originally published as a special series at Stratfor.

John Mauldin is president of Millennium Wave Advisors, LLC, a registered investment advisor. All material presented herein is believed to be reliable but we cannot attest to its accuracy. Investment recommendations may change and readers are urged to check with their investment counselors before making any investment decisions. Opinions expressed in these reports may change without prior notice. John Mauldin and/or the staff at Millennium Wave Advisors, LLC may or may not have investments in any funds cited above. Mauldin can be reached at 800-829-7273.

This information is not to be construed as an offer to sell or the solicitation of an offer to buy any securities.

“Dear Friends: One of the first things you learn about analyzing a company is how to dissect a balance sheet. What assets and liabilities can be deployed by a company to create equity over time? I’ve enclosed a fascinating variant on this process. Take a look at how STRATFOR has analyzed the “geographic balance sheets” of the US, Russia, China, and Europe to understand why different countries’ economies have suffered to varying degrees from the current economic crisis.

As investors, it’s precisely this type of outside-the-box thinking that can provide us profitable opportunities, and it’s precisely this type of outside-the-box thinking that makes STRATFOR such an important part of my investment decision making. The key to investment profits is thinking differently and thinking earlier than the next guy. STRATFOR’s work exemplifies both these traits.

I’ve arranged for a special deal on a STRATFOR Membership for my readers, which you can click here to take advantage of.  Many of you are invested in alternative strategies, but I want to make sure that you also employ alternative thinking strategies. So take a look at these different “country balance sheets” as you formulate your plans.
Your Mapping It Out Analyst, John Mauldin

The Geography of Recession

The global recession is the biggest development in the global system in the year to date. In the United States, it has become almost dogma that the recession is the worst since the Great Depression. But this is only one of a wealth of misperceptions about whom the downturn is hurting most, and why.As one can see in the chart, the U.S. recession at this point is only the worst since 1982, not the 1930s, and it pales in comparison to what is occurring in the rest of the world.

(Figures for China have not been included, in part because of the unreliability of Chinese statistics, but also because the country’s financial system is so radically different from the rest of the world as to make such comparisons misleading. For more, click here.)

But didn’t the recession begin in the United States? That it did, but the American system is far more stable, durable and flexible than most of the other global economies, in large part thanks to the country’s geography. To understand how place shapes economics, we need to take a giant step back from the gloom and doom of the current moment and examine the long-term picture of why different regions follow different economic paths.

The United States and the Free Market

The most important aspect of the United States is not simply its sheer size, but the size of its usable land. Russia and China may both be similar-sized in absolute terms, but the vast majority of Russian and Chinese land is useless for agriculture, habitation or development. In contrast, courtesy of the Midwest, the United States boasts the world’s largest contiguous mass of arable land — and that mass does not include the hardly inconsequential chunks of usable territory on both the West and East coasts. Second is the American maritime transport system. The Mississippi River, linked as it is to the Red, Missouri, Ohio and Tennessee rivers, comprises the largest interconnected network of navigable rivers in the world. In the San Francisco Bay, Chesapeake Bay and Long Island Sound/New York Bay, the United States has three of the world’s largest and best natural harbors. The series of barrier islands a few miles off the shores of Texas and the East Coast form a water-based highway — an Intercoastal Waterway — that shields American coastal shipping from all but the worst that the elements can throw at ships and ports.

The real beauty is that the two overlap with near perfect symmetry. The Intercoastal Waterway and most of the bays link up with agricultural regions and their own local river systems (such as the series of rivers that descend from the Appalachians to the East Coast), while the Greater Mississippi river network is the circulatory system of the Midwest. Even without the addition of canals, it is possible for ships to reach nearly any part of the Midwest from nearly any part of the Gulf or East coasts. The result is not just a massive ability to grow a massive amount of crops — and not just the ability to easily and cheaply move the crops to local, regional and global markets — but also the ability to use that same transport network for any other economic purpose without having to worry about food supplies.

The implications of such a confluence are deep and sustained. Where most countries need to scrape together capital to build roads and rail to establish the very foundation of an economy, transport capability, geography granted the United States a near-perfect system at no cost. That frees up U.S. capital for other pursuits and almost condemns the United States to be capital-rich. Any additional infrastructure the United States constructs is icing on the cake. (The cake itself is free — and, incidentally, the United States had so much free capital that it was able to go on to build one of the best road-and-rail networks anyway, resulting in even greater economic advantages over competitors.)

Third, geography has also ensured that the United States has very little local competition. To the north, Canada is both much colder and much more mountainous than the United States. Canada’s only navigable maritime network — the Great Lakes-St. Lawrence Seaway —is shared with the United States, and most of its usable land is hard by the American border. Often this makes it more economically advantageous for Canadian provinces to integrate with their neighbor to the south than with their co-nationals to the east and west.

Similarly, Mexico has only small chunks of land, separated by deserts and mountains, that are useful for much more than subsistence agriculture; most of Mexican territory is either too dry, too tropical or too mountainous. And Mexico completely lacks any meaningful river system for maritime transport. Add in a largely desert border, and Mexico as a country is not a meaningful threat to American security (which hardly means that there are not serious and ongoing concerns in the American-Mexican relationship).

With geography empowering the United States and hindering Canada and Mexico, the United States does not need to maintain a large standing military force to counter either. The Canadian border is almost completely unguarded, and the Mexican border is no more than a fence in most locations — a far cry from the sort of military standoffs that have marked more adversarial borders in human history. Not only are Canada and Mexico not major threats, but the U.S. transport network allows the United States the luxury of being able to quickly move a smaller force to deal with occasional problems rather than requiring it to station large static forces on its borders.Like the transport network, this also helps the U.S. focus its resources on other things.”

John F. Mauldin
johnmauldin@investorsinsight.com

Read more here.

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