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Think outside the box: ten outrageous predictions for 2009

Update: 3 Apr 2009: I have been getting more positive about the possibility of a cyclical upturn before 2009 is over (what I like to call a fake recovery). Meanwhile, the punderati are seeing black when they should be seeing shades of grey. As a result, I wanted to re-post this article as a reminder to all of you and to myself of the perils of becoming wedded to a certain ideological bias.



Also see the following article on the site Overcoming Bias.



Here’s the original post:



For a long time Byron Wien of Morgan Stanley used to have his “Ten Surprises for” whatever year we were about to enter. The predictions were sometimes head-scratchers and they were definitely ‘out there.’ Most of the time, these predictions ended up being wrong. Now, Saxobank has taken over from Morgan Stanley in this department. Their list is outlandish — and I’ll get to it in a moment. But, first, I want to say these predictions serve a very useful purpose. It’s called thinking outside the box.

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Traveling: Mexico and Germany

Over the next two weeks I will be traveling and will have a pretty sparse and sporadic posting schedule. Next week is Mexico and then the week after is Germany. I am definitely looking to post but it probably will not be in the quantity you have come to expect. While I am on the admin theme, I should note […]

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Spain’s savings banks may have 40 billion in writedowns

Spain’s savings banks may have 40 billion in writedowns

We should consider Spain one of the four original bubble markets where residential property markets soared to ridiculous levels during the housing bubble.  The bubble has now popped and those countries, the U.K., the U.S., Ireland and Spain, are reeling.  To be sure, there were bubbles in other markets as well. However, these four markets should certainly be the big […]

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Switzerland gets deflation too

First Spain, now Switzerland: Consumer prices in March were down 0.4% from a year ago, the Federal Statistics Office said, a 50-year low. The country has been close to deflation all year, with inflation having fallen from a peak of 3.1% in July 2008. The rate was 0.2% in February. The Swiss National Bank predicts that inflation will average -0.5% […]

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Employment situation report paints grim picture

Employment situation report paints grim picture

I have just finished looking at the latest employment situation report and there is absolutely no good news there. This report is miles apart from the jobless claims data I reviewed yesterday and does not cofirm we are anywhere close to a bottom. The headline number here was 8.5% unemployment, a 26-year high. However, upon digging a little deeper, even that number is relatively benign because of change in methodology. Below is a synopsis of what the further details reveal:

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A few comments about mark-to-market

Because I received a message via e-mail that my previous post on mark-to-market was misleading, I thought I would clarify what is happening with FAS 157 and provide some good links. The long and short of the rule is it gives more specific guidance as to when a market is distressed and an asset must not be marked-to-market as a […]

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Links: 2009-04-03

M2M Change = Time to buy banks? – FT Alphaville Recession Hits Social Security Increases “The banks” versus “some banks” – Paul Krugman Blog – NYTimes.com Medvedev Renews Call for Alternatives to Dollar – Real Time Economics – WSJ The Daily Dish | By Andrew Sullivan – Genes, Race, And IQ Buffett Penalized as Citigroup Borrows for Less – Bloomberg.com […]

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A note on government statistics and unemployment

A note on government statistics and unemployment

Update 31 Mar 2009: I am re-posting this post about unemployment figures from November 2008 because I think it relevant. The next unemployment number is coming out on Friday and I expect a large number. If you read this analysis, you can see that it is clearly too conservative because I was talking about 8.7% unemployment by July 2009. Clearly, unemployment will go much higher.

Here’s the original post, posted at 11:45 on 7 Nov 2008:

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House prices in the U.K. up for first time since Oct 2007

House prices in the U.K. up for first time since Oct 2007

House prices increased in March in the U.K. according to Nationwide Building Society. Below is what Nationwide’s Chief Economist Fionnuala Earley had to say about this surprise good news: “Spring brought a surprise bounce to house prices in March. The price of a typical house increased for the first time since October 2007, rising by 0.9% during the month and […]

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Are jobless claims peaking?

Are jobless claims peaking?

Tomorrow, we all await the unemployment number with anticipation.  In all likelihood, it is going to be a nasty number edging us ever closer to the 9.0% I once saw as a sort of upper range number for 2009. Meanwhile, jobless claims for the week ended March 28 are out.  The reported numbers of 669,000 initial jobless claims and 5.7 […]

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Mark-to-market is dead

This comes via Marc Chandler of Brown Brothers Harriman and is an even-handed review of what just happened: As widely expected FASB modified fair value accounting rules. The key seems to be for assets for which there is not a market. The last traded price does not have to be used. Rather other methods, like discounted cash flows can be […]

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The Cult of Zero Imbalances

The Cult of Zero Imbalances

Marshall Auerback here with a few thoughts about this economic cycle, external imbalances, fiscal stimulus, and current account deficits. This is not the Great Depression. We are going to have “muddle through” here precisely because we lack the courage to deficit spend on the magnitude we did in World War II. We are spending too much time fretting about “external […]

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