I came away from Maine, and meeting with some of the most astute economists in the world, with a series of impressions that will be the core of this week's letter. On Friday night, S&P downgraded US debt, and of course I need to comment on that. But as we talked the next two days and into the nights, I came increasingly to the opinion that this is indeed the Beginning of the Endgame. I must admit it has come about faster than I thought. But that is the nature of these things. And so, with no "but first," let's jump right in.