Eric Fry

Eighteen years ago, Morgan Stanley’s Investment Strategist, Byron Wien, quipped, “Unless Europe engages in an extensive program of restructuring, in 20 years it will be a vast open-air museum.”

But Europe did not restructure herself. Instead, she clung tenaciously to her beloved Welfare State. As a result, the museum’s doors are now open…and what a delightful museum it is!

Every exhibit hall features fascinating artifacts of capitalism and/or real-time interactive displays of the “Welfare State in Motion” — i.e. in stasis. The “Paris Exhibition” gets our top vote: Plop yourself down at a café table, sip a $15 cappuccino and watch unionized employees pretend to work.

Be sure to put it on your bucket list.

As museums go, this one may be the most dynamic and expansive one on the planet. If current trends continue, a brand new “American Wing” will be opening soon. In fact, to judge from the graphic below, this museum may soon have docents strolling the streets of almost every major economy in the Developed World.

The Shifting Composition of World GDP Over the Last Decade

During the last decade, the six largest economies of the Developed World lost “market share,” while six of the seven largest economies in the Developing World gained market share. America’s share of world GDP, for example, plummeted from roughly 32% to 22%. By contrast, China and Brazil both doubled their shares of world GDP, and most other Emerging Economies posted similar results.

These data points show the world as it is; not as we might like it to be…and certainly not as Americans believe it to be. Yesterday’s superstar economies are fast-becoming today’s has-beens, while many of yesterday’s basket-case economies are fast-becoming today’s dynamic upstarts.

Despite this palpable reality, most Americans continue to invest as if past performance does, indeed, guarantee future results. They prefer the “known quantity” to the “unproven prospect.” Problem is; the “known quantity” doesn’t really exist. The “known quantity” may be known, but its future performance is a complete unknown…as the history of sport frequently reminds us.

In 2007, the final year of Roger Clemens’ legendary, 24-year baseball career, he signed a $28 million contract to wear Yankee pinstripes. He would go on to win six games (and also to lose 6 games) that season with an ERA of 4.18. That’s almost $5 million per win, or $5 million per loss, depending on your perspective.

That same year, the L.A. Galaxy soccer team paid $250 million to import soccer legend, David Beckham, for a five-year contract. During those five years, Beckham spent lots of time nursing injuries and very little time leading his team to victories. Sure, he delivered a few memorable moments on the pitch, but not $250 million worth.

Known quantities may be familiar, but that doesn’t qualify them as intelligent investments. Out in the global economy, for example, many of the preeminent known quantities are losing their edge to relatively unknown up-and-comers.

Half of global GDP is now produced by what we call the Emerging Markets. Looking farther out, the IMF expects the Emerging Markets to produce more than 60% of the world’s GDP growth over the next four years — or about five times the growth the G-7 countries will contribute.

The IMF has been known to make a mistake from time to time. But its forecast is probably close to the target in this case. So perhaps the time has come to cast aside our fears and to embrace the world as it actually is, not as we might like it to be.

Aging superstar athletes cannot rejuvenate themselves…and neither can aging Welfare States.

Eric Fry
for The Daily Reckoning

Eric Fry

Eric J. Fry, Agora Financial's Editorial Director, has been a specialist in international equities for nearly two decades. He was a professional portfolio manager for more than 10 years, specializing in international investment strategies and short-selling.  Following his successes in professional money management, Mr. Fry joined the Wall Street-based publishing operations of James Grant, editor of the prestigious Grant's Interest Rate Observer. Working alongside Grant, Mr. Fry produced Grant's International and Apogee Research, institutional research products dedicated to international investment opportunities and short selling. 

Mr. Fry subsequently joined Agora Inc., as Editorial Director. In this role, Mr. Fry  supervises the editorial and research processes of numerous investment letters and services. Mr. Fry also publishes investment insights and commentary under his own byline as Editor of The Daily Reckoning. Mr. Fry authored the first comprehensive guide to investing internationally with American Depository Receipts.  His views and investment insights have appeared in numerous publications including Time, Barron's, Wall Street Journal, International Herald Tribune, Business Week, USA Today, Los Angeles Times and Money.

  • http://www.facebook.com/keith.jagger.94 Keith Jagger

    The only thing I have to say to this is…USA…USA. We’re number 1; Charlie number 10.

Recent Articles

One ETF to Play Asymmetric Warfare

Addison Wiggin

Almost one year ago, substation telephone cables were maliciously cut in San Jose, CA. In 20 minutes, 17 transformers were knocked out. A year on, similar threats have cropped up. Today, Addison Wiggin explains why these threats are so serious for the safety of the global economy... and shows you one way to play it...


What Small-Caps are Saying About the Current “Bubble”

Greg Guenthner

The big problem with declaring bubbles is that it really does you no good. Unless you're attempting to measure and time market moves, you're also blowing hot air. But if you keep watch for negative divergences, you have a much better shot at figuring out big market moves than the latest bubble-busters. Greg Guenthner explains...


How Gold Will Respond to Declining Discovery

Henry Bonner

Oil isn't the only resource to experience "peaks." Due to a major contraction in gold exploration over the past few years, the mining sector is no longer mining gold at its replacement rate. In other words, the amount of gold above ground is running out. And according to Henry Bonner, it will get worse before it gets better...


A Simple Strategy for Investing in the US Energy Boom

Byron King

Too often investments are made in a vacuum. But as Byron King demonstrates, the global economic crash... easy money... and technological advancements are all interdependent. In particular, that connection has changed the investment calculus in the resource market. Read on to learn how...


The Traffic Jam That Kills Thousands of People Every Day

Juan Enriquez

Back in the 1980s, John Nestor became infamous for single-handedly causing massive traffic jams on the Capital Beltway. But in his professional life, he created a completely different kind of traffic jam... one that may have contributed to the deaths of thousands of innocent people. Juan Enriquez has the full story. Read on...