2014: The Unlocking


Nothing like driving around your community for the first time in 2 days after an epic city shutdown and seeing abandoned cars still on the road to make you think about velocity increasing after a freeze.
 The first month of the year has been a tumultuous one for financial markets. Emerging markets have taken a tumble (see “This Water Lives In Mombasa”). Brick-and-mortar retailers like Best Buy, Gamestop, and Target have gotten blasted. Yet last night, Facebook reported stellar earnings and its stock sits at an all-time high, as mobile has gone from 0% of its revenues before its IPO to 53% of its revenues today. What we’re witnessing is the breaking down of stability (see “The Trouble With Stability”).
 Now that we’re almost 5 and a half years after the fall of Lehman Brothers, there’s been much talk about how far along in the recovery we are, from housing to labor to government finances. But that word, “recovery,” is dangerous, because it implies that we’re simply putting something back where it was before. While some economic actors were destroyed by 2008, others adjusted to what they believed to be a new normal. They cut costs and aggressively managed inventory. Instead of investing profits into new ventures they plowed it into stock buybacks. Others responded to low interest rates by leveraging low yielding positions, or playing a carry in higher yielding emerging markets.