On the Brink…

I’ve had a busy six weeks since my last email, having given talks in the Cayman Islands, Bahamas, and Puerto Rico so far this year.  While in Cayman, I spent about 45 minutes talking with Grant Williams, a friend from my investing days.  He’s now helping run Real Vision TV, an online portal for finance videos, and I did a taped interview with him that he converted into a “Think Piece” for the site.   CLICK HERE FOR THE VIDEO.

During the interview, I discussed a range of geopolitical and economic risks that I see emerging from the Chinese slowdown and the collapse of hard commodity and energy prices. These included the potential for a failed state in South Africa, a country with astronomically high unemployment; deepening recession in Canada; and domestic unrest in Saudi Arabia. With China, I explained why I foresaw an economic trough as its economy shifts from investment- to consumption-led growth.

Looking beyond today’s seemingly chaotic economic and political environment, I noted the risk of conflict in the Arctic and described my bullish outlook for animal protein.  I specifically noted the potential for a demand shock from a growing global middle class on all the elements of the protein production chain, from fertilizer to grain to meat. Closer to home, I also touched on how the global financial crisis affected the mindsets of college students.

Speaking of college students, the Yale seminar on business ethics I teach to undergraduates has gotten off to an exciting start this semester. Guests to date have included Mike Peel, former head of HR for General Mills; Matthew Winkler, former editor-in-chief of Bloomberg News; Jude Scott, CEO of Cayman Finance; and Claire Criscuolo, proprietor of Claire’s Corner Copia, the legendary New Haven restaurant that recently celebrated its 40th birthday.  It’s been a blast to teach this course and I feel privileged to have such great students and guests who stimulate wonderful discussions.

For my weekly insights on navigating our increasingly interconnected and uncertain world, do not forget to follow me on my various social media channels. To stay up to date with my work on Facebook, please like my page here. Follow me on Twitter here and LinkedIn here. And for those receiving this email from a friend or colleague, you can add yourself to my mailing list here.

Best wishes for safe passage through today’s global cross-currents.


America Is Enabling Tax Evasion

Inequality has been a central issue in the US presidential race, and tax havens are understandably a flash-point in this debate. In this short comment that generated more than 300,000 views, I point out that it is hypocritical for candidates to criticize offshore centers like the Cayman Islands without addressing the fact that the United States is one of the worst offenders of all.  


Is The Sharing Economy About to Stop Sharing?

The most prominent tech companies—from Uber to Facebook—do not own the assets and content they connect their users to.  In this note, I describe a countervailing trend that could upend this dynamic, with companies like Netflix pivoting to produce their own content and companies like Uber planning to own self-driving cars. 


Another Pandemic En Route?

The Zika virus has emerged as an enormous global public health issue. My note argues that the risks posed by the spread of the virus could include serious demographic disruptions as well as a potential impact on the Rio 2016 Olympics.  I also spoke with CNBC Asia about the potential economic ramifications of the outbreak.


Can the Fed Fight Global Conditions?

The new year’s market turbulence was yet another sign that the Fed is unlikely to stick to the course of rate hikes it signaled in December. In this short comment, I describe the global conditions that are making investors and policymakers alike squeamish. 


I’m Playing Powerball…and Why You Should Too

Last month, the Powerball jackpot swelled to become the largest lottery pool in human history. I described the dismal economics of the game—and why it was nevertheless worth playing.