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Mailbag: Staying Positive on 2010 Markets

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The harsh reality is that never before in history has there been such correlated systemic risk or outsized obligations.

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Toddo,

I have all the respect in the world for you, but I have to say I feel depressed after reading your Ten Themes for 2010 piece. Why not add a few themes that you think will be positive developments? I don't deny that we have problems, but if you spend all your time worrying and fixing, you forgo inventing and building. It's at that point when a man, and a society, dies.

This Minyan wishes his leader would show his optimistic side more often. You've told us the battle will be brutal, but I feel anchored at that point. What awaits us over the horizon? Be the wind, not the anchor!

Minyan Kevin


MK,

All of your points are well taken; I try to speak from the heart and tell the truth, as I perceive it. That of course doesn't mean it's right -- it just makes it honest.

Credit spreads are saying the market can continue higher, as they did in 2003. My fear is that, as discussed in theme one, there are synthetic and artificial influences that will have unintended consequences, including societal backlash.

I had the internal debate you speak of often since I began writing in 2000; optimism vs. my perceived realism. I tempered and tethered those vibes when I could (including discussions of The PPT) as people didn't wanna hear about it when the screens are green. History now defines the last decade as the worst financial showing ever for the stocks.

There ARE solutions -- us -- and there is a pathway, one I try to communicate as often as possible. The harsh reality is that never before in history has there been such correlated systemic risk or outsized obligations. The sheer magnitude is astounding. That doesn't make it 2010-specific, per se, but they are again -- and still -- cumulative.

I suppose it would be easier, or perhaps more concise, to say "Don't shoot the messenger" or "Don't hate the player, hate the game" but that sends the wrong message and it's not my style. I do care and I "hear" you, that's what makes MV a community and that's how I learn and grow.

Thank you for your time, sincerely.

Toddo

Todd,

I received your response at 2:17 AM. Do you ever sleep?

It's very interesting that you choose to frame it as optimism vs. realism. We'll soon have the 3 billionth person online. Think of what that means for global politics and business. Think of what will happen when the tracks to MUR are laid through Sub-Saharan Africa, Asia, and South America. Think about how (if?) we'll feed all those people. As millions of new minds become part of the collective consciousness, what new business ideas will they bring? Will the effects be deflationary? Or will we look back in hindsight at our decision to destroy excess capacity right as emerging middle classes make unprecedented demands on natural resources and consumer goods?

Advances in biotechnology have profound implications for this planet going forward, including lower mortality rates, the ability to remain active further into life and longer life in general. Of course, if twenty years ago your actuaries promised the beneficiaries of your defined benefit pension plan health care and an annuity for life, assuming they would live to 75 and advances in medical technology will have people living to 90+, then you have a major problem on your hands, no?

As a wise man once wrote, where you stand is a function of where you sit.

I'm not saying that you're wrong, that you're misguided, or that you should be more Pollyannish. I absolutely "see" the problems, and I have Minyanville to thank for that. Hopefully I've prepared myself well.

What I see isn't what makes me get out of bed in the morning. What I imagine "will be" is what does.

Thank you for all that you do,

Minyan KM


MK,

You're a Minyan to the core and your spirit is one we (try to) convey day in and day out. My 2010 Themes, as you note, don't fully convey that threaded optimism, but I would hope our stream of consciousness is a movie, not a snapshot.

As for the early bird response, I was between Nyquil's. Take me at my word, I sneak winks as I can these days! Have a great day -- and year -- and thanks for the thoughtful response.

Toddo

R.P.

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