Mile High View

Mike talks about big ideas and themes in modern investing.

  • 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…

  • Current Events,  Mile High View

    The Truth About 2017

    One of the things that I believe sets me apart from other talking heads commenting on the state of the markets is that I hold myself accountable for my predictions. 2017 is over now, and that means that most people are talking about 2018, and prepared to let bygones be bygones – whether they were right or wrong. I think it is important to take stock of what I said back in 2016 about the year just passed, and critique myself. I said at the end of 2016 that I believed 2017 would see the stock market continue to grow, not from any short-term political ramifications, but because we are…

  • Mile High View

    Climate Change and Energy Consumption

    Watching the reports on Irma and Harvey, rubbing my eyes from the haze that covered much of Seattle, and having the wettest winter in Seattle’s recorded history to this summer’s longest period without rain all feels like climate change to me. Yet we seem to be plunging forward into a future which will require more natural resources and more energy than ever. I am an optimist, and am confident that we will solve the problem – we will find a way to produce more energy with less damage to the climate. There will be investment opportunities on both sides (energy needs and climate change), and that is what I wanted…

  • Mile High View

    Inflation to Escape Depression

    Howard Marks, investor and writer, said “you can’t predict but you can prepare.” So, today I’m taking a mile-high view of the supercycle (what’s a supercycle? Read more about it in “The Third Supercycle Is Now”) and how I believe it will end, so that we can all be prepared. I believe that we will be able to speculate on how this supercycle will end by looking at previous cycles and the way they ended. By doing so, we’ll have the knowledge we need to prepare for whatever comes. Mind you – I believe that we still have a number of years left in this secular bull market, but it…

  • Current Events,  Mile High View

    The History of Crowdfunding

    In 1958, Harvard economist John Kenneth Galbraith published The Affluent Society, in which he outlined his belief that the US had reached the pinnacle of affluence – that American standards of living had risen as high as they ever would. Most families owned a car, their own 1,100 ft2 (on average) home, and even had refrigerators and telephones in those homes. This, Galbraith said, was as high as affluence in the US would rise. But we know that his assumption was wrong. Look at where we are today – smartphones and PCs and bigger houses and 3-car families, all concepts that Galbraith couldn’t predict. Society did not stagnate in the…

  • Mile High View,  Return on Investment

    The Myth of Excellence – Part Two

    I’ve been talking about how companies are seeing their lifespans shrinking – particularly how short the lifecycles of companies in the S&P500 have become. If you’re an investor that favors the buy-and-hold strategy, this is an intimidating prospect. The days of finding that perfect company, buying it, and tucking it away in the proverbial sock drawer are coming to an end. The average lifespan of a company in the S&P500, a study by Yale Professor Richard Foster found, was only 18 years!1 With such a daunting new world for investors to face, I’ve been studying good business practice, and found myself agreeing with some of the points made by Fred…