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Thoughts From The Frontline

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  • Negative Rates Nail Savers

    Before we jump in, I want to note that economic chaos is not my only concern. We face a whole different kind of chaos on the geopolitical front. To a considerable degree it overlaps with the economic problems I’ll discuss today. George Friedman has been calling the Eurasian landmass a “cradle of disorder.” It’s home to 5 billion people, and it’s floundering in a sea of accelerating crises.

  • Cleaning Out the Attic

    Three weeks ago I co-authored an op-ed for the Investor’s Business Daily with Stephen Moore, founder of the Club for Growth and former Wall Street Journal editorial board member, currently working with the Heritage Foundation. Our goal was to present a simple outline of the policies we need to pursue as a country in order to get us back to 3–4% annual GDP growth. As we note in the op-ed, Stephen and I have been engaging with a number of presidential candidates and with other economists around the topic of growth.

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  • Tax That Other Guy

    Last week's letter on taxes drew more response than any letter I have written in years. Questions that were raised simply beg for an answer, and some of the replies were very thoughtful, well-written suggestions for alternatives. This week I am going to do something I can't ever remember doing, and that is to use the entire letter to involve and respond to my readers. Let me begin by thanking all of those who responded, and to observe that every response I read was polite and courteous, even when aggressively disagreeing. Not every site on the internet has such a civil discourse among its readers. I appreciate that. Next week we will return to All Greece, All the Time or whatever the crisis du jour is, although I am much more interested in China of late. I will have to address the world's largest nation at some point soon. At the end of the letter, I provide some very interesting and fun links and a note on an upcoming webinar with investment legend Israel "Izzy" Englander. Now, let's zero in on taxes.

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  • The Cancer of Debt and Deficits

    We are coming to the point in the United States when even the US government will no longer be able to borrow at very low long-term rates. That point is a few years off, and we have time to change paths; but as I have shown in previous letters, the longer we wait to get the deficit under control, the fewer choices we have and the more painful they are. NO country can run deficits the size we are currently running, along with unfunded deficits over four times the size of the economy and a growing overall debt burden, without consequences. At some point, investors in bonds will start wondering exactly what the process is by which they will be repaid. And what will the value of those future payments be?

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  • The Center Cannot Hold

    This coming week we shall likely see Congress pass an extension of the "temporary" payroll tax cut, first enacted as a stimulus to the economy in January of 2011. As I write, the extension is just for two months. We'll leave aside the politics and look at the economic implications of the extension, and then go on to examine the deficit in the US. That will give rise to some thoughts about Europe and what would have to happen for a country to leave the euro. We'll finally close with some thoughts and graphs about the more controversial part of the tax cut extension, the Keystone XL Pipeline. Just how radical is it to build such a pipeline in the US? And what are the implications for the deficit? I think looking at a few maps might surprise some readers. It should all make for a rather controversial letter, but then controversy is my middle name. (Note, this letter will print longer as there are lots of charts.)