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John Mauldin

John Mauldin

Financial NY Times best-selling author, pioneering online commentator. Over 1 million readers turn to Mauldin for his view on Wall Street, markets, and history.

Articles by John Mauldin

Modern Monetary Madness

5 days ago

More than 10 years ago some Australian readers begin regaling me with the ideas of economist Bill Mitchell of the University of Newcastle in New South Wales. He was teaching about something he called (and he coined the term) Modern Monetary Theory. I looked into it and fairly quickly dismissed it as silly. Actually printing money as an economic policy? Get serious.
MMT is a revival of an early 1900s idea called chartalism. Now it is influencing the thinking of new socialist-like movements in the US and other places and cited by politicians. MMT is increasingly appearing in mainstream media like this sobering

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Capitalism Without Competition

12 days ago

The Soviet Union’s collapse and spread of semi-free markets through Eastern Europe seemingly ended the socialism vs. capitalism argument. Capitalism had won. Collectivist economies everywhere began turning free. Even communist China adopted a form of free market capitalism although, as they say, with “Chinese characteristics.”
The fruits of capitalism: millions of people freed from abject poverty and a few who got rich indeed. Nor is this a recent phenomenon. Capitalism in the last three centuries, with all its faults and problems, with all its contradictions, generated the greatest accumulation of wealth in

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What Should We Then Expect (From Investing)?

19 days ago

“Plans are worthless, but planning is everything.”

—US President Dwight D. Eisenhower
There are many versions of that Eisenhower quote he learned in the Army. Nixon, who probably heard it from Eisenhower directly, modified it to “… plans are useless, but planning is indispensable.” Both are variations on the theme, “No battle plan survives first contact with the enemy.”

Today we’ll look at what we should expect from our investing. In case you haven’t noticed, financial markets are really a giant expectations game. A company can report great quarterly results and still get crushed if earnings are less than

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How Should We Then Invest?

26 days ago

"To be absolutely certain about something, one must know everything or nothing about it."
—Henry Kissinger, former US Secretary of State

This month I’ve discussed some possible pathways for 2019. But beyond that, for the past year or so, I have been talking about what I think may unfold over the next decade. The term I often use is The Great Reset, but in my mind it’s more than just resetting global debt.

I think a number of equally important trends, all extraordinarily eventful, some amazingly positive and some frustratingly negative, when taken all together (which we’ll have to, like it or not) will produce

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Bull in the China Shop

January 18, 2019

The production of souls is more important than the production of tanks…. And therefore I raise my glass to you, writers, the engineers of the human soul.
Joseph Stalin, 1932

[Our purpose is] to ensure that literature and art fit well into the whole revolutionary machine as a component part, that they operate as powerful weapons for uniting and educating the people and for attacking and destroying the enemy, and that they help the people fight the enemy with one heart and one mind.

Mao Zedong, 1942

Art and literature is the engineering that molds the human soul; art and literary workers are the engineers of

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Something Wicked This Way Comes

January 11, 2019

For a couple of years now, the economic narrative has shown a comparatively strong US against weakness in Europe and some of Asia (NOT China). The US, we are told, will stay on top. I agree with that, as far as it goes… but I’m not convinced the “top” will be so great.
Americans like to think we are insulated from the world. We have big oceans on either side of us. Geopolitically, they serve as buffers. But economically they connect us to other important markets that are critical to many US businesses. Problems in those markets are ultimately problems for the US, too.

Last week I gave you my Year of Living

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The Year of Living Dangerously

January 4, 2019

Double, double, toil and trouble;Fire burn and cauldron bubble.

…By the pricking of my thumbs,Something wicked this way comes.

– William Shakespeare, Macbeth, Act IV, Scene I, 1606
Remember when it was a January ritual to fill in the new year on your blank checks? If you’re under 50, probably not. That we can now avoid that chore is one of life’s unsung little pleasures. But this time of year still comes, and by popular demand I must tell you what I think 2019 will bring.

In a nutshell, I expect to spend this year Living Dangerously. Yes, I’m thinking of the 1982 film starring a very youthful Mel Gibson and

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Bear Markets, Fed Mistakes, and Quick Shots from John

December 28, 2018

A winters day,In a deep and dark December…

“Wait, it doesn’t feel like winter. It’s not deep and dark, and it’s actually warm, and the sun is shining. Toto Shane, I don’t think we’re in Kansas Texas anymore.”
Yes, we have actually moved from Texas to a new location. I’ll explain why and where below. But first, we really do have to follow up last week’s letter. Today, we’ll address several things, so think of this as my year-end “Quick Shots from the Frontline.” It will be more like a personal, from the heart, fireside chat. (Trigger warning: I will be taking off my politically correct gloves. Naming names and

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Powell, the Third Mandate, the New Fed and Crawdads

December 21, 2018

We have reached the best time of year, when we can look to the future with hope. We can stop wondering what will happen in 2018 and look forward to 2019. The investment industry always does this enthusiastically, as you will see in forecasts everywhere the next few weeks.
Not wanting to be left out, or leave you wondering what I think, I usually review several other forecasts and later add my own. This year, I’m turning that sequence around. Recently I did a “2019 Investment Outlook” webinar with my business partner Steve Blumenthal. So right or wrong, my thoughts are now on record. In this letter, I’ll give you

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The Misunderstood Flattening Yield Curve

December 14, 2018

Everybody is suddenly talking about the inverted yield curve. They’re right to do so, too, but alarm bells may be premature. Inversion is a historically reliable but early recession indicator. The yield curve isn’t saying recession is imminent, even if it were fully inverted, which it is not.
What we see now is really more of a flattened yield curve, with a smaller but still positive spread between short-term and long-term interest rates. That’s not normal, but it’s also not a recession guarantee. However, when we combine this with assorted other events, it adds to the concerns.

I’ve been writing in this letter

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European Threats

December 7, 2018

Someone asked recently how many times I had “crossed the pond” to Europe. I really don’t know. Certainly dozens of times. It’s been several times a year for as long as I remember.
That makes me an extremely unusual American. Most of us never visit Europe, except maybe for a rare dream vacation. And that’s okay because our own country is wonderful and has a lifetime of sights to see. But it does affect our perspective on the world. Many of us don’t fully grasp how important Europe is to the US and global economy.

We may soon get a lesson on that. I’ve talked about Italy’s ongoing debt crisis, which is not

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Pyramids of Crisis

November 30, 2018

In an increasingly divided world, we all share one great desire: self-preservation. Not just humans, either. The survival instinct exists in almost every living thing. Humans simply have greater ability to do something about it.
In fact, we have been doing something about it for many thousands of years. An inverted pyramid of geniuses and giants, modern medicine, nutrition, sanitation, and assorted other innovations has extended our lifespans and helped more of us live to ripe old ages. That’s wonderful… but it’s also a problem many of us still don’t fully understand.

I have mixed feelings myself. At 69, I truly

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Double Debt Problem

November 23, 2018

The selloff in GE is not an isolated event. More investment grade credits to follow. The slide and collapse in investment grade debt has begun… (and later) Don’t be fooled by bond prices holding up, because trading volumes are down. There are fewer bids in the market, and the dispersion of bids is wider. It is time to jog—not walk—to the exits of credit and liquidity risk.

– Scott Minerd, Guggenheim Partners Chief Investment Officer
From a 50,000-feet viewpoint, we’re probably in a global debt bubble…Global debt to GDP is at an all-time high…This is going to be a very challenging time for policymakers moving

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Double Debt Problem

November 23, 2018

The selloff in GE is not an isolated event. More investment grade credits to follow. The slide and collapse in investment grade debt has begun… (and later) Don’t be fooled by bond prices holding up, because trading volumes are down. There are fewer bids in the market, and the dispersion of bids is wider. It is time to jog—not walk—to the exits of credit and liquidity risk.

– Scott Minerd, Guggenheim Partners Chief Investment Officer
From a 50,000-feet viewpoint, we’re probably in a global debt bubble…Global debt to GDP is at an all-time high…This is going to be a very challenging time for policymakers moving

Read More »

Seventh-Inning Debt Stretch

November 16, 2018

Science tells us energy can neither be created nor destroyed within a closed system. Whatever amount is there will stay the same, though it might change form. If only the same were true for debt.
Within the closed system called Earth, we are much better at creating debt than eliminating it. But when we have too much, we eventually eliminate it in painful and unpleasant ways via some kind of debt crisis. This has happened over and over again throughout history.

Today we’ll look at a new book by Ray Dalio called Principles for Navigating Big Debt Crises in which he examines those debt cycles and what we can do

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Seventh-Inning Debt Stretch

November 16, 2018

Science tells us energy can neither be created nor destroyed within a closed system. Whatever amount is there will stay the same, though it might change form. If only the same were true for debt.
Within the closed system called Earth, we are much better at creating debt than eliminating it. But when we have too much, we eventually eliminate it in painful and unpleasant ways via some kind of debt crisis. This has happened over and over again throughout history.

Today we’ll look at a new book by Ray Dalio called Principles for Navigating Big Debt Crises in which he examines those debt cycles and what we can do

Read More »

Economic Brake Lights

November 2, 2018

But, like Cinderella at the ball, you must heed one warning or everything will turn into pumpkins and mice: Mr. Market is there to serve you, not to guide you. It is his pocketbook, not his wisdom, that you will find useful. If he shows up some day in a particularly foolish mood, you are free to either ignore him or to take advantage of him, but it will be disastrous if you fall under his influence. Indeed, if you aren’t certain that you understand and can value your business far better than Mr. Market, you don’t belong in the game. As they say in poker, “If you’ve been in the game 30 minutes and you don’t know who the

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Economic Brake Lights

November 2, 2018

But, like Cinderella at the ball, you must heed one warning or everything will turn into pumpkins and mice: Mr. Market is there to serve you, not to guide you. It is his pocketbook, not his wisdom, that you will find useful. If he shows up some day in a particularly foolish mood, you are free to either ignore him or to take advantage of him, but it will be disastrous if you fall under his influence. Indeed, if you aren’t certain that you understand and can value your business far better than Mr. Market, you don’t belong in the game. As they say in poker, “If you’ve been in the game 30 minutes and you don’t know who the

Read More »

Debt Alarm Ringing

October 26, 2018

Is debt good or bad? The answer is “Yes.”
Debt is future spending pulled forward in time. It lets you buy something now for which you otherwise don’t have cash available yet. Whether it’s wise or not depends on what you buy. Debt to educate yourself so you can get a better job may be a good idea. Borrowing money to finance your vacation? Probably not.

Unfortunately, many people, businesses, and governments borrow because they can, which for many is possible only because central banks made it so cheap in the last decade. It was rational in that respect but is growing less so as the central banks tighten their

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Debt Alarm Ringing

October 26, 2018

Is debt good or bad? The answer is “Yes.”
Debt is future spending pulled forward in time. It lets you buy something now for which you otherwise don’t have cash available yet. Whether it’s wise or not depends on what you buy. Debt to educate yourself so you can get a better job may be a good idea. Borrowing money to finance your vacation? Probably not.

Unfortunately, many people, businesses, and governments borrow because they can, which for many is possible only because central banks made it so cheap in the last decade. It was rational in that respect but is growing less so as the central banks tighten their

Read More »

The Real Cost of Low-Fee Funds

October 19, 2018

Today, rather than tackle some big macroeconomic issue, we’ll go back to this letter’s roots and look at market timing and portfolio construction issues. I expect this will get both enthusiastic support and at the same time, make a number of readers uncomfortable—if not annoyed.
Why? Because I am going to take on a number of shibboleths many hold sacred and dear. But after a great deal of thought over the last few years, I’ve come to realize that all too often, and this includes myself, investment advisors and investors tend to “talk their book.” We bring prejudices and biases into our portfolio construction, and

Read More »

The Real Cost of Low-Fee Funds

October 19, 2018

Today, rather than tackle some big macroeconomic issue, we’ll go back to this letter’s roots and look at market timing and portfolio construction issues. I expect this will get both enthusiastic support and at the same time, make a number of readers uncomfortable—if not annoyed.
Why? Because I am going to take on a number of shibboleths many hold sacred and dear. But after a great deal of thought over the last few years, I’ve come to realize that all too often, and this includes myself, investment advisors and investors tend to “talk their book.” We bring prejudices and biases into our portfolio construction, and

Read More »

Red Hot China Mailbag

October 12, 2018

An odd aspect of being a writer is you never know in advance what will excite readers. I’ve written letters I thought very provocative only to draw mostly yawns.
Last week’s trade deficit letter lit some fireworks. The response was immediate and, in many cases, quite passionate in both directions. I got emails from old friends and longtime readers saying it was my best letter in years. Others said I had lost my marbles or gone over to the dark side. In fact, my whole China series has generated a lot of response. Evidently, I kicked the anthill.

I always appreciate feedback, even when it’s negative. Our staff

Read More »

Red Hot China Mailbag

October 12, 2018

An odd aspect of being a writer is you never know in advance what will excite readers. I’ve written letters I thought very provocative only to draw mostly yawns.
Last week’s trade deficit letter lit some fireworks. The response was immediate and, in many cases, quite passionate in both directions. I got emails from old friends and longtime readers saying it was my best letter in years. Others said I had lost my marbles or gone over to the dark side. In fact, my whole China series has generated a lot of response. Evidently, I kicked the anthill.

I always appreciate feedback, even when it’s negative. Our staff

Read More »

The Trade Deficit Isn’t the Boogeyman

October 5, 2018

I have to confess something: I run a huge trade deficit. It’s not with China or Mexico, but with Amazon. I buy all sorts of goods from them and Jeff Bezos has yet to spend a penny with me. It’s just not fair.
Sound ridiculous? That’s exactly what it is. Totally absurd. I like Amazon. I’m happy with the items the company ships to me and (I presume) Amazon is happy to receive my money. We both win.

The same kind of relationship exists between the US and China, although with a few twists we’ll discuss below. That’s not to say China is a trade policy choirboy, but the trade deficit is not the key problem. Trying to

Read More »

The Trade Deficit Isn’t the Boogeyman

October 5, 2018

I have to confess something: I run a huge trade deficit. It’s not with China or Mexico, but with Amazon. I buy all sorts of goods from them and Jeff Bezos has yet to spend a penny with me. It’s just not fair.
Sound ridiculous? That’s exactly what it is. Totally absurd. I like Amazon. I’m happy with the items the company ships to me and (I presume) Amazon is happy to receive my money. We both win.

The same kind of relationship exists between the US and China, although with a few twists we’ll discuss below. That’s not to say China is a trade policy choirboy, but the trade deficit is not the key problem. Trying to

Read More »

The Trump Trade War Recession?

September 28, 2018

“A conservative is someone who stands athwart history, yelling stop, at a time when no one is inclined to do so, or to have much patience with those who so urge it.”

—William F. Buckley, Jr., 1955
I will never compare myself to Bill Buckley, as a writer or anything else. He was one-of-a-kind and a personal hero who I am disappointed to say I never met but who I read a lot. The response to my recent tariff comments gives me a small hint of how it must have felt to “stand athwart history” and launch the modern conservative movement. Many of you support the tariffs. And I understand your reasons. I really do.

Free

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The Trump Trade War Recession?

September 28, 2018

“A conservative is someone who stands athwart history, yelling stop, at a time when no one is inclined to do so, or to have much patience with those who so urge it.”

—William F. Buckley, Jr., 1955
I will never compare myself to Bill Buckley, as a writer or anything else. He was one-of-a-kind and a personal hero who I am disappointed to say I never met but who I read a lot. The response to my recent tariff comments gives me a small hint of how it must have felt to “stand athwart history” and launch the modern conservative movement. Many of you support the tariffs. And I understand your reasons. I really do.

Free

Read More »

China for the Trade Win?

September 21, 2018

With all the trade war talk, we all ask the obvious question: Who will win? President Trump says the US will win. Chinese business leaders say no, we will win. Free-traders on both sides say no one will win. Few stop to ask, “What does a ‘win’ look like?”
This makes discussion difficult. People are chasing after a condition they can’t even define. Victory will remain elusive until they know what they want. Regardless, you can score me on the “no one wins” side. I believe, and I think a lot of evidence proves, that free trade between nations is the best way to maximize long-run prosperity for everyone.

However…

Read More »

China for the Trade Win?

September 21, 2018

With all the trade war talk, we all ask the obvious question: Who will win? President Trump says the US will win. Chinese business leaders say no, we will win. Free-traders on both sides say no one will win. Few stop to ask, “What does a ‘win’ look like?”
This makes discussion difficult. People are chasing after a condition they can’t even define. Victory will remain elusive until they know what they want. Regardless, you can score me on the “no one wins” side. I believe, and I think a lot of evidence proves, that free trade between nations is the best way to maximize long-run prosperity for everyone.

However…

Read More »