Category Archives: Economics & Politics

When is the news discounted? Search for the marginal seller






When you read about weakness in emerging market and commodities AFTER 50% price drops, there might be a chance of the news ALREADY in the the pricing structure.



There is a joke that illustrates the value of optionality

An investment banker and carpenter are sitting next to each other on a long flight. The investment banker asks the carpenter if she would like to play a fun game. The carpenter is tired and just wants to have a nap, so she politely declines and tries to sleep. The investment banker loudly insists that the game is a lot of fun and says, “I will ask you a question, and if you don’t know the answer you must pay me only $5. Then you ask me one question, and if I don’t know the answer, I will pay you $500.” To keep him quiet, she agrees to play the game.

The investment banker asks the first question: “What’s the distance from the earth to the Saturn?” The carpenter doesn’t say a word, pulls out $5, and hands it to the investment banker.

The carpenter then asks the investment banker, “What goes up a hill with three legs and comes down with four?” She then closes her eyes again to rest.

The investment banker immediately opens his laptop computer, connects to the in-flight Wi-Fi, and searches the Internet for an answer without success. He then sends emails to all of his smart friends, who also have no answer. After two hours of searching, he finally gives up. The investment banker wakes up the carpenter and hands her $500. The carpenter takes the $500 and goes back to sleep. The investment banker is going crazy from not knowing the answer. So he wakes her up and asks, “What does go up a hill with three legs and comes down with four?”

The carpenter hands the investment banker $5 and goes back to sleep.

Go find bets like that!

A Trading Parable

Once upon a time, a man and his assistant arrived in a very small town and spread the word to the townspeople that the man was willing to buy monkeys for $100 each. The people knew there were many monkeys in the nearby forest and immediately started catching them. Thousands of monkeys were bought at a price of $100 and placed in a large cage. Unfortunately for the townspeople, the supply of monkeys quickly diminished to a point where it took many hours to catch even one.

When the new man announced he would now buy monkeys at a price of $200 per monkey, the town’s resident’s redoubled their efforts to catch monkeys. But after a few days the monkeys were so hard to find that the townspeople stopped trying to catch any more. The man responded by announcing that he would buy monkeys at $500 after he returned with additional cash from a trip to the big city.

While the man was gone, his assistant told the villagers one by one: “I will secretly sell you my boss’ monkeys for $350, and when he returns from the city, you can sell them to him for $500 each.”

The villagers bought every single monkey, and they never saw the man or his assistant ever again.

Irredeemable Currency Collapse

Dollar black hole

Talks on our monetary system

more: Leveraged Bubbles


Question: Inevitable Currency Collapse?

Premise 1: All dollars are borrowed into existence.  The Fed, for example, creates dollars to purchase government bonds, which, in turn, are paid in dollars, but those dollars are backed by debt.  Around and round we go.

Premise 2. The debt can’t be extinguished, so debt grows while the marginal utility of debt declines.  You borrow $100 from the bank, then repay your bank with $100 then your cash declines by $100 and the bank’s loan balance declines by $100.   But what happens to the $100 used to buy a tool for your business. Now the tool maker has the $100.

Can the debt be paid back out of current income?  When the marginal utility of debt reaches zero or a negative number, then the dollar has to collapse since the value of the debt will have to decline until collapse.   Ernest Hemingway, said, “We go broke in two ways. First slowly and then suddenly.”

How does the dollar die? It drowns in debt.  The money supply may even be decreasing as debt defaults, but the value of other debt collapses and thus the dollar. Remember that all dollars are backed by the balance sheet of the Federal Reserve.

I am not saying that the dollar will collapse tomorrow but what will stop the inevitable?   Since all other currencies are a derivative of the reserve currency, the US Dollar, you will see greater stress in foreign currencies before the dollar shows the same level of decline.

Question 2: legal tender laws were eliminated and people could choose their own money, would interest rates remain LOW and  S T A B L E?  How would rates fluctuate?


Hint: note how relatively stable interest rates were between 1880 and 1913.  What set the rate of interest?

Question 3: Does a long-term decline in interest rates hurt businesses? How? What adjustments would you make as an analyst in such an environment?

Prizes to be determined.
The end game?

I will send out the Value Vault keys as promised to the folks who have made requests over the past week.


The Secret to Success: Being Ridiculed on Social Media; Hedge Fund Analyst Quiz; The End


Jesse Felder, a Contrarian Trader   Listen to the podcast and explore The Felder Report

Hedge Fund Quiz

The only way to win a date is to become a hedge fund analyst.  Your interview process requires you to analyze a real estate/mining company.

You look first at the balance sheet (Thanks Mr. Graham).   You notice that this mining company bought claims under a ski resort (Park City, Utah) where it bought acres in 1907 at five dollars an acre.

Then you notice that the company issued 20-year corporate bonds when interest rates were 9% for AA corporates about fifteen years ago.  Now similar companies can issue bonds at 5%.

How would you conduct your analysis? Good luck.

Interest rate decline

The End

So how will it all end? Dollars are created by computer key stroke when the Fed buys bonds, but the dollar is backed only by bonds (and a tiny bit of gold) and the bonds are payable in Federal Reserves Notes (the dollar) or just another form of debt. So debt is created to buy debt which, in turn, is payable in debt. Whoa?! No way this could ever be a problem. It’s magic. One thing bothers me, though, why do we need legal tender laws TO FORCE people to use dollars? I got a bad feelin’ on this.

But WHAT if more and more debt creates less and less “GDP” (let’s pretend it means something–govt spending creates economic growth, Ha Ha.) until each dollar of debt creates 0 or negative GDP growth. The Fed has to print to pay interest on the debt or the tail consumes the tiger.

Hemingway: We go broke slowly, then suddenly!

Anyone using CPI to gauge reality needs a reality check. You are a fool to buy gold as an “investment against “CPI inflation.” You own gold as a form of money to store wealth IF you lack confidence in central planning. So when it all comes down is when gold goes into permanent BACKWARDATION in gold. Holders of gold go NO BID on dollars. But don’t worry, the dollar derivatives like the Yen and the Euro will be earlier casualties. Meanwhile hope that the dollar rises against in order to buy more ounces. For others, Pray.
Now those who read the above my disagree, but know exactly fiat currencies do NOT go to 0 (or NO BID).

Venezuela in Collapse; What we are reading

Venezuelas Crisis Nears Tipping Point  The failure of socialism and interference in free exchange reaps a bitter harvest for the people. 
      3.   John Paulson on Gold – Reuters
      4.   Bill Ackman on CEOs – CNBC
      5.   Crossfit’s Business Model – Quartz
      6.   A Conversation with Peltz and Ackman – Jim Cramer (CNBC)
      7.   Viewing Stocks As Bonds

 – Donald Yacktman

     9.   Podcasts: The Innovator’s Dilemma
      10. Letters: FairholmeTocqueville | Third Point | ML | GMO
HAVE A GREAT WEEKEND!  Sign up at for news on investing.
The End of the Central Bank Mal-Investment now comes deflation. 

Capitulation Part II


Gold-Miners-Compound-Return (1)

An Epic Bear Market in miners

Mining securities are not the thing for widows and orphans or country clergymen, or unworldly people of any kind to own. But for a businessman, who must take risks in order to make money; who will buy nothing without careful, thorough investigation; and who will not risk more than he is able to lose, there is no other investment in the market today as tempting as mining stock.” – Charles H. Dow (1879)

dust gdxj

There is NO REASON to own gold! (NOW, they tell us!)

No hope for gold holders

Global dollar stress might be causes gold price crashes.

The “price action” for gold is bad!  The price of gold went down.

dollar mg

Why not be happy and say that the dollar buys you more gold because of this:


The holders of physical bullion are not selling, but futures traders are–see the red line rising which is the co-basis.  If I hold gold in stock, but sell futures to lock in the price, then co-basis represents the difference between the bid price for spot and the offer price for futures.   Leveraged futures traders are selling futures but bullion holders are not de-stocking (selling).  The selling in gold futures has brought epic extremes in prices of miners relative to gold/silver. EPIC quantitative easing may be a factor.

Video: Sellers in action:SELL ‘EM!

BAML commodities



Does Gold represent good “value?”

Gold to S&P 500

Ratio gold to sp

Only you can answer that question. Don’t confuse gold (money) as an investment. If you couldn’t find a margin of safety in the current stock market, you might own gold because you believe gold relative to dollars is safer, holds purchasing power better, more stable, etc.

See Value Investors Hate Gold

For those technical wizards out there, note that silver did not “confirm” the price decline in gold yesterday.


Just remember (thanks


Reversion to the Mean/Mental Models; Money and Banking

Bell curve

Bell curve

See Mental Models


Back to the extremes of the Internet Bubble years…………..and the extremes may become even more extreme!



Bank of England Money an Introduction (pdf) Part 1

Bank of England Modern Money Creation (pdf)  Part 2

How QE Works by the Bank of England Part 3

Slanted but instructive.

he following quote from C. Edward Griffin tells the little known story how dollars are created.

The Mandrake Mechanism

The American dollar has no intrinsic value.  It is a classic example of fiat money with no limit to the quantity that can be produced.  Its primary value lies in the willingness of people to accept it and, to that end, legal tender laws require them to do so.  It is true that our money is created out of nothing, but it is more accurate to say that it is based upon debt.  In one sense, therefore, our money is created out of less than nothing.  The entire money supply would vanish into bank vaults and computer chips if all debts are repaid.  Under the present System, therefore, our leaders cannot allow a serious reduction in either the national or consumer debt.  Charging interest on pretended loans is usury, and that has become institutionalized under the Federal Reserve System.  The Mandrake Mechanism by which the Fed converts debt into money may seem complicated at first, but it is simple if one remembers that the process is not intended to be logical but to confuse and deceive. The end product of the Mechanism is artificial expansion of the money supply, which is the root cause of the hidden tax called inflation.  The expansion then leads to contraction and, together, they produce the destructive boom-bust cycle that has plagued mankind throughout history wherever fiat money has existed.

Reversion to the Mean and Using History as a Guide

What’s going to happen is, very soon, we are going to run out of petroleum, and everything depends on petroleum. And there go the school buses. there go the fire engines. The food trucks will come to a halt. This is the end of the world. Kurt Vonnegut, Jr. in Rolling Stone (August 2006)goldOil




 It is very difficult to predict energy markets. In thirty-five years in the industry, I have never seen a forecast of the future that has been right. Jim Rogers, CEO of Duke Energy “U.S. Boom Won’t Hurt Australian LNG, Says Duke” (The Australian, 26th February 2013)

Gold is headed to $700. When will gold crash again and natural-gas-natural-gas-natural-gas

ung chart

gold to nat gas

People who purport to foresee, in other words, characteristically “see” the future exclusively through the lens of the present: if today it’s sunny and warm, then they’re upbeat and anticipate that tomorrow’s weather will be even more pleasant; but if it’s presently storming and cold, they are downcast and expect that the gloom will persist and worsen.

On May 6th, 2008, when the price of Brent crude was $125 per barrel and had doubled during the previous 12 months a Goldman Sachs analyst:

“I would suggest that the likelihood of that happening sooner has increased tremendously … sometime in summer,” Jeffrey Currie told an oil and gas conference in the Malaysian capital, referring to oil at $150 a barrel.

Goldman Sachs, the most active investment bank in energy markets and one of the first to point to triple-digit oil more than two years ago — a once unthinkable level — said last month oil could shoot up to $200 within the next two years as part of a “super spike.” Oil to $150 to $200 a barrel, May 2008

Quite the contrary: during 2009 it collapsed below $50–and within a few years it doubled. oil

Don’t take “expert” opinion seriously and the blunt truth is that neither you nor I nor anybody else can know the economic and financial future.  Yet investors must ACT TODAY in light of their expectations–however misplaced–about tomorrow.  So what do we do?  What’s happened historically can OCCASIONALLY (not always) provide credible clues about what might subsequently occur.

To learn more,  a must read: jul15_newsletter RTM. 

The author combines a fundamental understanding of the supply/demand dynamics of oil (inelastic supply/demand) and the past history of oil prices. It is that COMBINATION that helps with expectations.

Take the time to understand his analysis of RTM in the oil market. It is an expectation not a prediction.  A supplement to this might be: Pzena on oil 4th Q 2014 (the marginal cost producer in oil).

My attempt at gold: Estimating Where Gold will go using history as a guide and Historical-Gold-Prices

Gold prices are, in my mind, more difficult to analyze since the production of gold does not influence price because the stock to flow ratio is so high (180,000 tones to 2,500 tons per year). The reservation demand for gold is what drives the price. Does gold mining matter? For an analysis of gold: In Gold we Trust 2015 – Extended Version (e)

Also, see gold-when-will-it-crash-again  The author believes that gold is a commodity that went into a bubble and, like 1980, will decline 65% to below $700.

gold chart

fear chart

Have a great weekend!

Austrian Business Cycle Theory and Greece


The above audio link gives you a synopsis of the Greek Crisis.   To understand the future then read:

Reformulation of ABCT_Salerno

The Austrian Theory of the Business Cycle


We are screwed or the collapse of welfare states:


Please a day of silence for the end of pit trading



Gold and a Credit Bubble

ibb and goldIBB in black is a biotech ETF, blue line is the S&P 500 Index, and gold color is the GDX senior gold miners.

Gold is a current asset, with no future cash flows–it is the financial opposite of biotech. This is why gold is the ULTIMATE LOSER during the growth of a credit bubble, but a SURE WINNER when it collapses. It is why gold mining companies will go from being worth next to nothing to something, a nearly infinite percentage increase. –Dan Oliver, Myrmikan Capital


In Gold we Trust 2015 – Extended Version (e)