Mile High View

Mike talks about big ideas and themes in modern investing.

  • Current Events,  Mile High View,  Trade War

    We Are at War

    The late Chuck Knox, the first coach to get the Seattle Seahawks into the NFL playoffs, had a saying: “You have to play the hand you are dealt”. In football, that is to say, you have a limited number of players, some of which might be injured, the weather may be working against you, the rival team may be more skilled, but regardless you must do your best with your team. This eletter is neither political commentary nor meant to be political in any way, but as investors, we must address the trade war between America and China. Understand too this is not an easy exercise or simple analysis; I…

  • Current Events,  Mile High View,  Trade War

    Predictions 2019: The Truth About China

    Recently, China has been causing no end of concern for the American investor. The Trade War that sprung up between the United States and China has caused fluctuations in the market as the talks have gone well or poorly, and, as of this writing, nothing has been resolved. Investors are wary of what could come next. I believe there is a historical model that we can use to understand China’s end goals and the means they may use to get there. At the same time, we have a window into China’s longer-term approach by looking at what China has done in steel production and the impact it has had on…

  • Adams Financial Concepts,  Current Events,  Mile High View

    How Will This Bull Market End?

    How will it end? Will it end in another Great Recession? Will it end with a bout of high inflation? Or will it just continue on and never end? The Great Depression of the 1930s, like the First Great Depression of the 1830s and the long-lasting Depression of the 1870s to early 1900s, was credit-related. During those economically stressful times, bank runs became panics. When a bank was in trouble, individual depositors, fearing the loss of their money, would rush to the banks to demand their money back. When the panic affected only one bank, that institution could sometimes borrow cash from other banks or sell their loans to raise…

  • Current Events,  Mile High View

    Beware!! The Unicorns Are Coming!

    That’s right, the Unicorns are coming. As an article in The Economist[1]pointed out, we use a lot of animal names: bull, bear, dog, hawk, dove, lion, and – in the last few years – unicorn. Unicorns are private companies that are valued at $1 billion or more. Lyft recently came public valued at a $16 billion market cap. Uber has filed and more will follow: Airbnb, We Work, Pinterest, Slack, and a host of Chinese unicorns. I live in Seattle and remember when Microsoft came public. It was a small startup and already profitable, but nothing close to the size of a unicorn. Starbucks had just begun to expand outside…

  • Current Events,  Mile High View

    Recession Indicator Flashing Red – Is it time to head to the exits?

    “Dow falls 460 as US Recession Indicator Flashing Red” reads a CNN Headline from last Friday. Is it time to head for the exits? Are we tumbling into a recession? The “bond vigilantes” are out in force waving the caution flags. But could there be another explanation? What is the red flag? The yield on 3-month treasuries is now higher than the yield on the 10 year treasury bond, a condition known as “inverted yield curve”. The yield curve is a graph of interest rates on the vertical axis and the length of time on the horizontal. In the past and inverted yield curve has correctly predicted 9 of the…

  • Current Events,  Mile High View,  Return on Investment

    How Long Will This Secular Bull Last?

    John Templeton, one of the great investors, said of secular bull markets, “Bull markets are born in pessimism, grow on skepticism, mature on optimism and die on euphoria.”   Secular bull markets continue for decades: 1941 to 1966 and 1978 to 2000, for example. I believe it is important to know the “mile high” view and not to get lost in the short term swings. There is no shortage of pundits who predict coming crashes. Andrew Roberts of the Royal Bank of Scotland stated, “Think the unthinkable – the market is going off a cliff”. That was in 2010. That is not unlike James Dale Davidson, who predicted there would…

  • Current Events,  Mile High View

    Impeachment and Investing

    What happens to the markets if President Trump is impeached? It isn’t my intention to give a prediction on if he will or will not be impeached. I am writing this to analyze what would happen if he is impeached, so that you, and your investments, will be prepared in the event. I was an Eagle Scout and the motto is “Be Prepared” – Be prepared for the worst and hope for the best. That is not the purpose of this eletter; this is about the markets, not the merits (or lack-thereof) of impeachment. I do not believe history repeats but that it rhymes. There is no way to know…

  • Current Events,  Mile High View

    2019 Predictions

    One of my favorite quotes is from Yogi Berra: “Predictions are difficult, especially about the future.” Most years I believe that applies. I believe 2019 may be the exception. 2018 started strongly and continued until the end of August, and then not only did the S&P 500 wipe out all the gains but ended down 4.39%. In my opinion nothing characterized that what happened more than December 24 and December 26. On December 24, the DOW Jones 30 plunged 653 points and the next trading day on December 26, the DOW charged upward 1,024 points. What changed in the 36 hours from December 24 to December 26? Nothing. Computer algorithms…

  • Current Events,  Mile High View

    The Impact of Fracking

    The stock market selloff Thanksgiving week 2018 was the worst Thanksgiving week since the 1930s, during Franklin D. Roosevelt’s administration. Why this sudden drop in a year of highs? And what impact will we see? In my opinion, the selloff stems from changes in the largest industry in the world. And few people recognize it. The Bush-era tax cuts, the largest ever passed, saved the average family $315 a year. The changes that are taking place now will save the average family $1,750 a year and will probably increase. Oil prices dropped from $76 a barrel to $51, and I expect oil will gradually drop even further. The energy industry…

  • Current Events,  Mile High View

    The Secrets of the Bond Vigilante

    The Economist recently compared watching the market in 2018 to watching a horror movie. There is the character that walks out into the dark, the floor boards creaking and the swell of haunting music to build the tension. Is it Freddy Krueger or only the wind? In response to the drama of the market, the so-called “bond vigilantes” have reappeared. I have not heard mention of the bond vigilantes in over a decade, maybe two. My family sometimes questions my taste in novels, specifically when I started The History of Interest Rates by Sidney Homer. It goes back to 1988-89, when I was first in the business; I moved out…