For nearly a century, American electoral politics was characterized by the oft-repeated aphorism: “As Maine goes, so goes the nation.” These words rang true to Americans for at least two reasons – first, because of Maine’s early harvest and immoderate fall weather, it held gubernatorial and congressional elections in September. Hence, the winning party often hopefully viewed its results as a harbinger of victory in the November presidential election. Secondly, pundits regarded Maine as a statistical bellwether, since its winning gubernatorial party in September took the White House in November near three quarters of the time between 1832 and 1932. This reputation was especially cemented into American consciousness in 1888, when Maine was solidly Republican in September and predicted Benjamin Harrison’s electoral victory in spite of losing the nationwide popular vote. But Maine’s bellwether reputation was shattered forever in 1936,…

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What a few weeks we’ve just lived through in the financial markets, with no shortage of turbulence, turmoil, and downright tribulation across the world. The S&P 500 tumbled more than one hundred points last week, a dubious distinction it had not achieved since the grim days of October 2008 – as of this writing, it’s fallen more than fifty points in a single morning. China’s yuan (partially) and Kazakhstan’s tenge (entirely) shifted to a freely floating currency from central management, causing the former to fall materially and the latter to plummet precipitously. A barrel of crude oil cost 32% less than it did at the outset of July. Against this backdrop of coordinated devaluating pressure, it’s no surprise that market volatility measures have jumped considerably. 2-year cap volatility, a measure of the cost of insuring against rising interest rates, has…

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