Year: 2023

The Bear’s Lair: All I want for Christmas is a bear market

Interest rates turned up decisively during 2021 and inflation has receded somewhat, yet stock prices are close to their all-time highs, far above traditional valuation norms. Analysts expect this trend to continue, with Goldman Sachs this week raising its 2024 target for the Standard and Poor’s 500 index to 5,100. The problem is: continued bullishness […]

The Bear’s Lair: Most mergers should be stopped, not waved through.

The Biden Administration’s Lina Khan, head of the Federal Trade Commission, is one of the administration’s very few bright spots, intellectually speaking. She has overthrown the existing merger jurisdiction, set up by the late great Judge Robert Bork in the 1980s, to question why the FTC should let through mergers as a matter of course. […]

The Bear’s Lair: Biden has killed the Exorbitant Privilege

It was French President Charles de Gaulle who in 1965 referred to the dollar’s position as the world’s leading international reserve currency as conferring “exorbitant privilege” on the United States. De Gaulle’s words represented his usual mixture of deep and subtle wisdom and fierce resentment of the Anglo-Saxon powers. For forty years after he spoke, […]

The Bear’s Lair: Riding the tides of interest rates

Much has been written about the end of the bond bull market of 1981-2021 and the return to higher interest rates in the future. In this environment, conventional long-term bonds are a poor investment – their value is eroded by inflation and their prices will fall if interest rates rise. However, there is now an […]

The Bear’s Lair: The G in ESG is as bad as the E and the S

The ESG movement, whereby companies follow centrally approved directives in the areas of environmental activity, social activity and governance, has seen some setbacks recently. Environmental and social goals have been criticized as reflecting leftist political wish-lists not compatible with fiduciary duties to shareholders and others. Yet the “G” – governance – which had been seen […]

The Bear’s Lair: Is the West adopting China’s model?

Under Xi Jinping, China has moved away from its previous mixed economy to one in which all major decisions are taken by the state and are subject to the Five-Year Plan. Business leaders must toe the party line, while foreign investment is allowed into the country only on terms that involve ceding most intellectual property […]

The Bear’s Lair: The decade of debt restructuring

The 1930s saw a major global recession and a decade of debt default and restructuring, sovereign, corporate and personal. The 1970s saw a series of mild recessions, accompanied by inflation; debt defaults and restructurings were far less severe. Today we are likely due for a recession of uncertain length and depth (though unlikely to match […]

The Bear’s Lair: World central banks are wimping out

The Fed’s decision this week to hold the Federal Funds short-term interest rate at the 5.25%-5.50% range mirrored recent actions in other central banks worldwide. That is a pity; inflation is by no means conquered yet and real interest rates are well below their levels of the United States in 1969, the last time interest […]

The Bear’s Lair: A property franchise would work better.

We have just seen what is probably yet another failure of universal suffrage, admittedly in Argentina, where such failures have been themselves universal. The reformist Javier Milei, who had a good handle on the pretty robust reforms Argentina desperately needs appears to have been defeated by the government Peronist, who assisted his campaign with massive […]

The Bear’s Lair: Suffolk Bank beats Bankman-Fried

Two groups of people from elite backgrounds, Boston merchants of the early 19th century and Stanford professorate alumni of the early 21st century, founded institutions that made important changes to the U.S. financial system. Yet the financial institution founded by the Boston merchants played an important stabilizing and constructive role, while that founded by Stanford […]