Jeff Speakes, Ph.D.

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Jeff Speakes is Director of Financial Markets at California Lutheran University’s Center for Economic Research and Forecasting. Jeff is also president of Kern Economics, a firm specializing in economics consulting and market risk advisory services. He was formerly Senior Managing Director and Chief Economist at Countrywide Financial Corporation where he oversaw interest rate hedging, economic forecasting, and quantitative model development and validation. He was responsible for the design, development and ongoing management of Countrywide’s leading-edge servicing hedge operation.

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John Bogle died earlier this year at the age of 89.  According to legendary investor Warren Buffett, Bogle created more wealth for investors than anyone else in history.  A few years ago, I wrote an essay about John Bogle and the company he founded – Vanguard.  Here is a brief excerpt John C. (Jack) Bogle… Read more

One of the top performing companies for the past fifty-plus years has been Berkshire Hathaway (stock symbol BRKA), managed the entire time by Chairman and CEO Warren Buffett.  BRKA is a holding company with wholly owned stakes in operating companies (for example, See’s Candies) and stock investments in other public companies (for example, Wells Fargo… Read more

According to founder and CEO Jeff Bezos, the long-term future for Amazon is that it will fail one day. In one sense, this statement is not remarkable.  Nothing is forever.  Eventually, every company will fail (except, maybe, too-big-to-fail banks).  But I wonder what this says about the buy and hold investment strategy.  After all, if… Read more

Late on a Sunday night in September of 2008 the third largest investment bank in the US, Lehman Brothers filed for bankruptcy.  The filing followed failed efforts to find a buyer for the company, an equity investor, or to convince the Federal Reserve to extend credit.  The immediate cause was a “run” by private creditors… Read more

My last few essays have focused on the 10% upper tail of the wealth or income distribution.    People generally acknowledge that the top ten percent are doing great.  Perhaps this is true by definition.  If they were doing poorly, they would not be in the top 10%!  What about the other 90%?  Let’s start with… Read more

I’ve argued in the past that wealth acquisition is a good thing (provided it does not arise from theft or fraud).  There are several reasons for this.  The most obvious is that spectacular wealth generally arises from spectacular success of an entrepreneurial venture, which almost by definition means the creation of some great new product… Read more

Stock market prices fell 12% during the first week of February.  This comes after a rally of 25% during the previous thirteen months (all percentages based on movements in the S&P500 stock index). Naturally, this is of concern to investors.  But it is not necessarily a big deal.  In fact, it could be a good… Read more

The Federal Reserve quarterly Flow of Funds report shows that Household sector net worth (value of assets less liabilities) reached nearly $100 trillion in 2017, more than five times GDP.  Economic theory has a difficult time in explaining why households have accumulated this much wealth.  According to the Life Cycle Consumption Model, people save during… Read more

Ray Dalio is the founder of Bridgewater Partners (BWP), the largest hedge fund in the world.  He has recently published a book Principles in which he describes the work and life principles that have contributed to Bridgewater’s success.  The primary goal since the firm’s inception in 1975 was to be an “idea meritocracy” based on… Read more

It is well known that one really good way to get extremely rich is to hold a large concentrated position, often as the founder, in the stock of a company that realizes extraordinary success.  Another way, generally viewed to be less reliable, is to win the lottery.  In a very interesting research report, finance professor… Read more