A recurrent fear for the last few years is the stock market has managed to form yet another bubble which will burst in a fashion of 2000 or 2008. While the real estate market has certainly made a strong comeback, I don't think it's near the exuberance of 2007. I came across this chart which shows the price of technology stocks relative to their sales. While technology stocks have had a great run as of late, they still aren't close to the valuation of '98-'99. While I don't think this gives any indication of where the market will go from here, I do think it means we haven't created an environment that would lead to the 'burst' of the last two bull markets. 


Below is the full article:


Some things never change

There's been quite a bit of debate about the rising levels of US debt recently, and rightfully so. However in case anyone thinks the use of debt is a recent phenomena in economics, I recently read a piece about the economy of ancient Syria. The passage below was written on a tablet in around 2,000 BCE:

From Silla-Labbum and Elani

Tell Puzur-Assur, Amua, and Assur-samsi:

"Thirty years ago you left the city of Assur [one of the capitals of ancient Assyria, 250 or so miles north of Baghdad]. You have never made a deposit since, and we have not recovered one shekel of silver from you, but we have never made you feel bad about this. Our tablets have been going to you with caravan after caravan, but no report from you has ever come here. We have addressed claims to your father but we have not been claiming one shekel of your private silver. Please, do come back right away; should you be too busy with your business, deposit the silver for us. (Remember) we have never made you feel bad about this matter but we are now forced to appear, in your eyes, acting as gentlemen should not. Please, do come back right away or deposit the silver for us.

If not, we will send you a notice from the local ruler and the police, and thus put you to shame in the assembly of the merchants. You will also cease to be one of us."

So I think it's safe to assume the use of debt has been employed by nations far before the US started printing money, and it's still not easiest topic to deal with once it's out there!



I read an article the other day on the return of the show Arrested Development..of which I'm a big fan. The article described the TV viewing landscape when the show first aired in 2003. Fewer than 30% of all households had DVD players, and in my mind even more telling, less than 3% of all households used DVRs. These stats are amazing and quite telling. Not because I think our culture and economy revolve around TV (perhaps they do) But rather think about how much technology has changed in just 10 years. My family rarely uses the dvd player anymore, and just 10 years ago that was considered forward thinking technology. 

In a lot of different areas you see this kind of rapid change..medicine, transportation, etc..I have to imagine the same innovation will continue to change our lives in the decade ahead, and alter the economy along with it. 



The US energy boom continues

The boom in oil and gas production, along with a shift to alternative sources, continues in the US, yet it doesn't seem that the general public (including myserlf) fully grasps this. 

One more data point to put this in perspective, in December China passed the US to become the worlds largest importer of oil. This was the first time the US did not lead the in this 40 years. In this same month North Dakota, Ohio and Pennslyvania produced 1.5 million barrels a day, more than Iran exported. 

While this hasn't exactly been an obscure story, it's impact is still far from being appreciated. 








Sign of the times in Southern Europe

While Europe escaped a collapse in 2012, most of Southern Europe is still struggling mightily. Case in point, Portugal. Portuguese unemployment stands at 15% and climbing. Due to a non existent job market, Portugal lost 3% of it’s population due to emigration.  The number one destination was Switzerland, while right behind it is Angola. That’s right, the former Portuguese colony is receiving the unemployed of Portugal to the tune of 20,000 people a year.


And it is not a one way street. Oil rich Angola is purchasing real estate and interests in major Portuguese corporations.  This story may be as much about Angola, which has grown 10% a year for the last decade, as Portugal, which may contract between 1-3%. 

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