Thursday, December 31, 2009

Happy New Year! Get ready for 2010

Happy New Year to you all! We've compiled some great year-end reviews for you, along with some worthwhile commentaries on the financial & social outlook for 2010.

1. Dave Barry's Year in Review: 2009 - Miami Herald.

2. Dud of a Decade - Chart of the Day via Bear Mountain Bull.

3. A Hell of a Decade - Peter Schiff at Campaign for Liberty.

4. Marc Faber shares his 2010 outlook on CNBC - Investment Postcards.

5. Ultimate Guide to 2010 Investment Outlooks - PragCap.

6. James Howard Kunstler: Forecast 2010 - Kunstler.com

7. Decade of Disruption: 4 part series - FT.com

8. Reflection and Introspection: Quotes - Financial Philosopher.

9. My Decade...Economically Speaking - Howard Lindzon.

Enjoy these links and we'll see you in 2010. Have a happy and healthy New Year.

Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Pivot Capital report: China's Investment Boom

We mentioned a possible divergence of opinion between Niall Ferguson and Jim Chanos on the future of China's economic path in Monday's post, "Niall Ferguson: world tilts towards Asia" (although Niall does hedge quite a bit on possible outcomes for Asia & China towards the final paragraphs of his article).

Is China's economy sailing along thanks to a skillful implementation of government-directed "stimulus", or is the country's current prosperity and stated economic output merely a mirage?

Jim Chanos is on record saying that China is "Dubai times 1000" and that the government-directed economy is being propped up with phony GDP statistics. His firm, Kynikos Associates, has also been influenced by a report
on China's economy from Pivot Capital Management:

"
The Pivot Capital report was extremely popular in Chanos’s office and concluded, “We believe the coming slowdown in China has the potential to be a similar watershed event for world markets as the reversal of the U.S. subprime and housing boom.” "

I thought it would be insightful to follow-up Monday's post with a look at this research, so I'm currently reading Pivot Capital's report, "China's Investment Boom: the Great Leap into the Unknown" (pdf).

If you're inclined to read along and share your thoughts on China's economy with us, we'd appreciate it.

Monday, December 28, 2009

Niall Ferguson: world tilts towards Asia

Niall Ferguson is out with a new opinion piece in the FT that discusses China, America, and "the decade the world tilted east".

"I am trying to remember now where it was, and when it was, that it hit me. Was it during my first walk along the Bund in Shanghai in 2005? Was it amid the smog and dust of Chonqing, listening to a local Communist party official describe a vast mound of rubble as the future financial centre of south-west China?


That was last year, and somehow it impressed me more than all the synchronised razzamatazz of the Olympic opening ceremony in Beijing. Or was it at Carnegie Hall only last month, as I sat mesmerised by the music of Angel Lam, the dazzlingly gifted young Chinese composer who personifies the Orientalisation of classical music?

I think maybe it was only then that I really got the point about this decade, just as it was drawing to a close: that we are living through the end of 500 years of western ascendancy."

Ferguson has been thinking and writing about the rise of China and the shaky state of the US' undeclared empire quite a bit lately. He now points out, citing economic research from Goldman Sachs, that China could surpass the US economy in terms of GDP by 2027.

The long-term trends of rapid industrialization in developing nations and the gradual transfer of wealth and economic influence towards Asia are undeniable. However, one has to wonder if the current strength of the Chinese economy and the effectiveness of its stimulus efforts are as solid as Ferguson seems to believe. On these points, he and hedge fund manager, Jim Chanos may disagree.

Sunday, December 27, 2009

Interview: Greg Zuckerman (Greatest Trade Ever)



Matt Davio at MissTrade recently interviewed Gregory Zuckerman, writer and author of, The Greatest Trade Ever, a new book about the "short" subprime real estate trade and the fortunes made by speculators and investors like hedge fund manager John Paulson through their persistent effort in carrying out that trade.

After watching this interview and hearing all the great insights on what made John Paulson's trade a breakthrough winner for his firm & for his investors, I decided that Zuckerman's book should be at the top of my reading list. Can't wait to check it out.

Related articles and posts:

1. Lessons from John Paulson - Finance Trends.

2. 'Greatest Trade Ever' podcast w/ Gregory Zuckerman - Slate.

3. MissTrade "Trader Talk" interviews - Vimeo.

Thursday, December 24, 2009

Season's greetings!



Season's greetings to all. And of course, as is the holiday tradition here at Finance Trends, we like to celebrate with a Peanuts special. So here's, "A Charlie Brown Christmas". Enjoy!

Merry Christmas to everyone celebrating and a happy holiday season to all our readers and friends in the financial blogosphere. We'll see you over the weekend for more financial news and insights. Have a great holiday.

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Indian TV interview with Marc Faber

Prieur at Investment Postcards has posted this Indian TV interview with Marc Faber.

For a few highlights from this discussion, see my Twitter page for yesterday's Faber related tweets. Or, watch the 3 part interview and get it straight from the horse's mouth.

Lots of interesting comments on investing opportunities in India, the US' standard of living relative to emerging nations, values in the commodities arena, the future direction of US government bond yields, and more. Enjoy the clips.

Friday, December 18, 2009

Ben Bernanke: man of the year?

Time magazine has seen fit to honor Fed Chairman Ben Bernanke as its "Person of the Year".

Rather than waste my time (and yours) regurgitating their nonsense, I thought we'd take a quick look at some of the more interesting reactions to, and accurate appraisals of, this news. A short linkfest of Bernanke & Fed realism follows:

1. Person of the Year, My Foot! Bernanke "Failed Miserably", Says Chris Whalen - Tech Ticker.

2. A More Honest Look at Time Person of the Year Ben Bernanke - Wall St. Cheat Sheet.

3. Time Magazine's Kiss of Death: "You!" - Mish.

4. Time on Bernanke: The Peak of Central Banking? - Minyanville.

5. Ron Paul on Bernanke and the Fed - Jesse's Cafe.

6. Impoverisher of the Year - Mises Blog.

We should note that the Senate Banking Committee is backing Bernanke for a second term as Federal Reserve Chairman, with the debate over his renomination heading to the full senate in January.

What do you think? Should Bernanke stick around for a second term? Ponder that, and enjoy your weekend

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Jean-Francois Tardif: inflation vs. deflation

Canadian hedge fund manager (retired), Jean-Francois Tardif made a very interesting analogy concerning inflation and deflation in his recent Agoracom conference presentation.

If you happened to check in with us on Monday, you'll know that we found some worthwhile presentations in this online conference archive.

Tardif's talk is no exception, and he offers the view that the much talked about inflation & deflation scenarios are equally valid. JF sees inflation vs. deflation as a nine round boxing match with either side winning alternating rounds over a longer-term period.

If you want to jump straight to his views on the inflation & deflation scenario, skip ahead to slide 5 in Tardif's online presentation. Food for thought.

Related articles & posts:

1. FSN inflation vs deflation debate updates - Finance Trends.

2. Doug Casey: 'Deflation is a good thing' - Finance Trends.

Monday, December 14, 2009

Presentations from Agoracom conference

Spent some time over the weekend (and this afternoon) listening to presentations made by Barry Ritholtz, Gregor Macdonald, and Jean-Francois Tardif at the recent Agoracom online gold and commodities conference.

Judging from the conference title and the presentations listed, most of the discussion seems to center around the gold, energy, & the resources sector. However, there are some presentations that are differently focused; Barry Ritholtz' talk on our "Bailout Nation" is one such standout.

Stocktwits community members and MacroTwits devotees will surely recognize energy writer, Gregor Macdonald, who offers up his take on the future of energy transition and the likely impact that alternative energy and coal will have on our planet in the years to come.

Definitely something for all here, so do take a look at some of these free audio & visual slide presentations. You may find some actionable information or useful educational material within.

Friday, December 11, 2009

Jim Rogers on CNBC, Tech Ticker




Jim Rogers is in New York, making the rounds on business television. Here's a great interview with Rogers on CNBC, talking with Maria Bartiromo about the Fed, Geithner, and the state of the US' finances.

He also shared his investment (and trading) outlook on the US dollar, foreign currencies, and commodities. Rogers agrees that gold has rallied strongly and is ready for a move down, but notes that he is keeping his gold for the long term, and he's still quite bullish on relatively undervalued silver.



Jim also sat down to talk with Tech Ticker and made some very interesting comments on the bogus economic recovery and the future of America.

Rogers feels that most of the phantom recovery has been based on more money printing, debt, and wealth transfers from taxpayers to failed banks and their creditors. He also makes some very serious comments about our stepped up involvement in Afghanistan and the long-term consequences for our nation and its economy.

More Tech Ticker segments with Rogers: "Audit the Fed, Then Abolish It", &, "Why Jim Rogers is Buying Dollars".

Enjoy the interviews (hat tip to Chris Nelder on Twitter), and let's hope that some of this serves as a wake up call to those still in thrall with our "leaders".

Related articles and posts:

1. Jim Rogers interview with FT.com - Finance Trends.

2. Marc Faber BNN interview - Finance Trends.

Wednesday, December 09, 2009

Who wants war? Follow the money

Ron Paul addresses America's ever-expanding foreign wars (mentioned here last week) and the outsized influence of the military-industrial complex in his latest talk, "Who Wants War? Follow the Money":

"If anyone still doubted that this administration’s foreign policy would bring any kind of change, this week’s debate on Afghanistan should remove all doubt. The President’s stated justifications for sending more troops to Afghanistan and escalating war amount to little more than recycling all the false reasons we began the conflict.


It is so discouraging to see this coming from our new leadership, when the people were hoping for peace. New polls show that 49 percent of the people favor minding our own business on the world stage, up from 30 percent in 2002. Perpetual war is not solving anything. Indeed continually seeking out monsters to destroy abroad only threatens our security here at home as international resentment against us builds.

The people understand this and are becoming increasingly frustrated at not being heard by the decision-makers. The leaders say some things the people want to hear, but change never comes..."

If you want to know what's happening behind the scenes, follow the money. We've got an escalating war in Afghanistan, but as Mr. Paul points out, the originally stated purpose of our military mission there (capturing Bin Laden and other 9/11 plotters) has somehow eluded us for the past eight years.

Meanwhile the debate over whether or not Bin Laden is still in Afghanistan continues, and another foreign war (or two) drags on as our new President weighs his options in light of a hoped for second term in office.

Monday, December 07, 2009

Jim Grant: requiem for the dollar

Over the weekend, I started reading what has to be the article of the week, and very possibly, one of the top choices for Article of the Year: Jim Grant's latest WSJ opinion piece, "Requiem for the Dollar".

Here's an excerpt from that piece:

"Ben S. Bernanke doesn't know how lucky he is. Tongue-lashings from Bernie Sanders, the populist senator from Vermont, are one thing. The hangman's noose is another. Section 19 of this country's founding monetary legislation, the Coinage Act of 1792, prescribed the death penalty for any official who fraudulently debased the people's money.


Was the massive printing of dollar bills to lift Wall Street (and the rest of us, too) off the rocks last year a kind of fraud? If the U.S. Senate so determines, it may send Mr. Bernanke back home to Princeton. But not even Ron Paul, the Texas Republican sponsor of a bill to subject the Fed to periodic congressional audits, is calling for the Federal Reserve chairman's head.
I wonder, though, just how far we have really come in the past 200-odd years. To give modernity its due, the dollar has cut a swath in the world. There's no greater success story in the long history of money than the common greenback. Of no intrinsic value, collateralized by nothing, it passes from hand to trusting hand the world over. More than half of the $923 billion's worth of currency in circulation is in the possession of foreigners..."
If you want a great, article-length review of our money system and how we got to where we are today, definitely check out Grant's essay in full.

PS, if you'd like to know more about the country's monetary laws, you may want to seek out Edwin Vieira's very thorough book, Pieces of Eight.

Related articles and posts
:

1. Jim Grant on CNBC: get set for inflation - Finance Trends.

2. Rothbard: The Founding of the Federal Reserve - Finance Trends.

Friday, December 04, 2009

Jim Sinclair interview: Trading with Jesse Livermore and Bert Seligman

Metals analyst and trader, Jim Sinclair talks with Eric King of the King World News broadcast about the gold market, mining shares, and the trading tactics of Bert Seligman and Jesse Livermore.

As instructive as he can be on the gold and metals markets, I have to tell you that it was Jim's opening comments on Jesse Livermore and his father, Bert Seligman, that had me glued to this interview. If you are a fan of trading and market history, you won't want to miss it. Jim even discusses Livermore's last years and offers a contrary view of JL's circumstances at the time of his death.

Enjoy the interview, and if you like the broadcast, check out these past Eric King interviews with Rick Rule and Jim Puplava for more great insights on the markets and our world.

Wednesday, December 02, 2009

Niall Ferguson: An Empire at Risk

Niall Ferguson on the Debt Bomb, or, "An Empire at Risk":

"
In the great scheme of things—let's be frank—it does not matter much if Iceland teeters on the brink of fiscal collapse, or Ireland, for that matter. The locals suffer, but the world goes on much as usual.

But if the United States succumbs to a fiscal crisis, as an increasing number of economic experts fear it may, then the entire balance of global economic power could shift. Military experts talk as if the president's decision about whether to send an additional 40,000 troops to Afghanistan is a make-or-break moment.
In reality, his indecision about the deficit could matter much more for the country's long-term national security. Call the United States what you like—superpower, hegemon, or empire—but its ability to manage its finances is closely tied to its ability to remain the predominant global military power. Here's why..."
Of course, some of us in the US might welcome an end to our militaristic global empire; maybe it will help bring about a return to our founding principles and a refocusing on national defense (in the the true sense of the word) and securing our borders.

Hat tip to The Weekly Standard blog.