A little more than thirty years ago Tom Clancy was a Maryland insurance broker with a passion for naval history. Years before, he had been an English major at Baltimore’s Loyola College and had always dreamed of writing a novel. His first effort, The Hunt for Red October—the first of the phenomenally successful Jack Ryan novels—sold briskly as a result of rave reviews, then catapulted onto the New York Times bestseller list after President Reagan pronounced it “the perfect yarn.” From that day forward, Clancy established himself as an undisputed master at blending exceptional realism and authenticity, intricate plotting, and razor-sharp suspense. He passed away in October 2013.
Pretending that it isn’t happening or hoping to hug it out is not a rational response to the chaos that is coming. I know that some cling to their misguided views on the way the world works with the ferocity of a mother bear protecting cubs, but for the rest of us, there’s this thing called reality. When we accept it, we can prepare for it. Read More
When the financial media continuously repeat an opinion as fact, it spawns a mainstream narrative, which produces a powerful effect on investor psychology. One mainstream narrative, repeated with certainty, is low interest rates cause high stock market valuations, which is supported by the public statements of investment luminaries such as Warren Buffett.
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Conventional economics holds that it is incentives—carrots and sticks—which drive individual economic actors to do what they do, and thus leads to economic growth. Although incentives are important, they are not the main driver of growth. The Neanderthal in his cave had the same incentive to eat and access to the same raw materials as we do today. Yet, our economy is vastly more advanced, why?
One of the primary reasons municipal bonds are considered separately from other types of bonds is their special ability to provide tax-exempt income. Interest paid by the issuer to bond holders is often exempt from gross income for federal income tax purposes, as well as state or local taxes depending on the state in which the issuer is located, subject to certain restrictions. Bonds issued for certain purposes are subject to the alternative minimum tax as an item of tax preference.
It’s been 30-weeks since the last 6-month low (December). The intermediate cycle has averaged about 23-weeks, so we are well overdue for a bottom. Interestingly, while gold crashed nearly 10% in 2-months, gold miners remained relatively stable. Currently, they linger just 6% below their April highs; their resilience should not be ignored. It speaks of a hidden energy that once loose, should deliver brilliant gains. Read More
Falling consumer confidence. This is generally one of the last dominoes to drop leading up to a bear market, partly because people are too stubborn to think any economic party could possibly end, and partly because they don’t have the data or the skill to analyze what’s going on behind the scenes. In other words — consumers are usually “the last ones to see it coming.”
Questions like Ron’s that suggest the decay of capitalism and free markets should raise concerns for anyone’s market thesis, bullish, bearish or agnostic. What stops a central bank from manipulating asset prices? When do they cross a line from marginal manipulation to absolute price control? Unfortunately, there are no concrete answers to these questions, but there are clues. Read More
In his book, “1984”, George Orwell envisioned a future crushed by the iron grip of a collectivist oligarchy. The narrative told of the INGSOC Party which maintained power through a system of surveillance and brutality designed to monitor and control every aspect of society. From the time of the book’s release in 1949, any ensuing vision of a dark dystopia depicting variations of jackboots stomping on human faces, forever, has been referenced as being “Orwellian”. This is because Orwell’s narrative illustrated various disturbing and unjust conceptualizations of control, crime, and punishment. Read More