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

Addison Wiggin
A Manifesto, of Sorts

Addison Wiggin

More than a decade ago, Addison Wiggin helped co-found the Daily Reckoning with Bill Bonner. Today, he recalls this life-changing experience, and explains how - despite being rooted in the world of finance - it is and will always be about much more than money. Read on...


4 DIY Halloween Costumes You Can Make in 10 Minutes or Less

Peter Coyne

Halloween is tonight! And just in case you waited until the last second to think about what you're going to wear, here are four costume ideas you can easily put together in about 10 minutes or less. With these costumes you'll be the hit of your friend's party - provided you're friends with a bunch of economists. (Downloadable masks included...) Happy Halloween!


Bill Bonner
4 Basic Truths to Help You Navigate the Financial News

Bill Bonner

The financial news is full of misinformation - reported by unreliable pundits and taken at face value by an easily swayed public that doesn't really no better. That's why today, Bill Bonner relays the four basic truths he's discovered during his 30 year career in the financial industry to help you make sense of it all. Read on...


Extra!
How YOU Can Help Pass the Swiss Gold Referendum

Grant Williams

For those who doubt the effectiveness of the Swiss Gold Initiative, Grant Williams has a few startling charts to show you. Today, he relays just how popular this movement is, and how you can actually influence the outcome... no matter where in the world you call home. Read on...


How Small Cap Stocks Saved the Market

Greg Guenthner

For most of the year, no one wanted small cap stocks in their portfolios. But over the last three weeks, few sectors of the market have performed better than small caps. Greg Guenthner explains how to use this to your advantage... and what to expect for the rest of 2014. Read on...