Seymour Zises, President and co-founder of Family Management, writes bi-monthly opinions on issues and observations of relevance to clients and investors.
“On the one hand… and on the other hand…” Well, as applied to “one hand” the housing market and economic crisis has caused deflation. And “on the other hand” the U.S. continues to print money to inflate the economy. We say BOTH deflation and inflation are happening at the same time. Let us explain. If you buy a home today, odds are that it will cost less than it would have three years ago. If you go to Wal-Mart or Target, the values are incredible and you will pay less for much of their merchandise.
The world has just experienced the hottest decade since weather records have been kept. As such, the world economy must adjust; weather patterns affect the economies of all nations… some for the better and some for the worse. Weather will be an increasingly important theme in investing in the coming years. As a result of the rising cost of healthcare in the U.S., medical tourism is becoming big business outside of the United States. More than 500,000 Americans traveled abroad to receive medical care in 2006.
“Ex Nihilo” means “out of nothing” in Latin… It is just what the Federal Reserve will have to do — create money out of nothing. They do this through quantitative easing, a phrase you may have heard but may not understand. In practical terms, the central bank purchases financial assets (mostly short term), including government paper and corporate bonds, from financial institutions (such as banks) using money it has created “ex nihilo.”
The Iceland volcano severely impaired the travel of millions of people just as the oil spewing into the Gulf of Mexico severely impaired the travel of millions of fish. From top to bottom, things are looking mighty glum these days.
Speaking of top to bottom, as Attorney General Blumenthal’s campaign for U.S. Senate in Connecticut was just taking off, his statements about serving in Vietnam brought his poll numbers down significantly – we frankly can’t see why; after all, isn’t this part of what we have become accustomed to from our politicians??!!
The U.S. stock market continues to advance as we move sluggishly toward an economic recovery. The fourth quarter GDP advanced slightly less than estimated, and the index finished 5% higher as of the writing of this letter. It seems like relative to most of the rest of the planet, America is handling its problems in a more orderly fashion; that is quite remarkable. (Notwithstanding, everyone here seems to be complaining!) Europe has its PIIGS (Portugal, Ireland, Italy, Greece and Spain) as the Euro has fallen from its peak in the summer of 2007.