Tuesday, September 1, 2015

How Will John Carter Get Through this Weeks Market Turmoil?

You know him as our trading partner that made a name for himself as the guy who made the Big Trade on Tesla. Simpler Options CEO John Carter has continued to allow us to watch over his shoulder as he quietly took an account that he put $150,000 in at the beginning of the year and in 8 months turned it into $650,000.

Our readers have been attracted to John's trading methods due to the system's ability to limit risk while limiting the fees it takes to trade in this manner. And best of all it can be accomplished with any size account, no matter how large or small.

Markets appear to be down this morning again so our timing couldn't be better. How did John fair in the market turmoil of last week? He calmly continued to make money while using the volatility to his advantage. Luckily for us John put together another game changing free video that shows us exactly what he did in the peak of the madness.

Watch the video HERE

Here's what else he covers for you in the video.....

  *  Why the recent market sell off didn't change his plan

  *  How to compound profits correctly

  *  Why options are so profitable no matter the market condition

  *  And his plan that you can easily copy

Watch the video HERE for free, and let us know what you think


See you in the markets putting this to work,
Ray C. Parrish
aka the Crude Oil Trader


Get the latest updated version of John Carter's free eBook "Understanding Options".....Just Click Here

Monday, August 31, 2015

How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love Market Fluctuations

By Patrick Cox

Most of you know that my day job involves finding disruptive technologies for investors. Most of you also know that the stock market has recently taken a southward plunge.

When I was younger, I always wondered why big fluctuations in markets seemed to cause so many people so much anxiety and consternation. It’s not as if we don’t know that, historically, markets have always displayed big swings. Understanding this, it always seemed clear to me that a rational individual would not invest money in equities if that money might be needed in the short run.

Obviously, I have a tendency to overestimate other people’s rationality because every one of these big swings inevitably creates the same predictable tsunami of lamentation and dread. So, once again, I’m feeling like an outsider in this industry. Not only am I emotionally unaffected by the market’s downturn, I’m pleased… for several interrelated reasons.

One reason is that fluctuations induce resiliency. A steady predictable market is a market that is susceptible to being stampeded, either up or down. Neither is particularly good for the economy. Nevertheless, the traders who take big paper losses when the market takes a nose dive tend to sell off, allowing investors to buy at reduced prices. This is good for the economy. Big fluctuations tend to move resources into the hands of investors, where they are less volatile and better serve the overall economy.

This means that fluctuations serve the interests of serious investors. The secret to success in the market is to “buy low and sell high.” Mathematically, this investment philosophy is pretty much impossible to implement if the market is never low. If you’re an investor rather than a trader, you welcome big downturns because they provide bargain prices.

I’ve talked to several other investment analysts recently about this and none of them share my perspective. They know that I’m right about the long run, but they worry when their customers are worried. My policy, however, is to make sure that my subscribers know that such events are going to happen as surely as the seasons change.

Moreover, I make sure to tell them that they should always be prepared to exploit the panic of the herd to add beaten-down stocks to their portfolios. If you implement this strategy, big downturns (like the one we’ve been seeing) are huge financial opportunities as well as a reason to celebrate.

There is, however, a third reason to welcome downturns. Sometimes, markets need to go down.

If the world reflected the wishes of investors and analysts, stocks would all go up… forever. But that’s not how the world or capitalism works. For progress to be made, innovation has to replace established and formerly successful businesses. Joseph Schumpeter, probably my favorite economist, coined the term “creative destruction” to describe this process.

The concept of creative destruction may seem oxymoronic simply because most people don’t think of destruction as a positive or creative process. Schumpeter, however, was an economist versed in the biological sciences. He was well aware of the fact that evolutionary processes always move forward by doing away with less adaptive systems. Creation of the new requires the destruction of the old.

A lot of people don’t understand or like this, but the extinction of species is the cost of adaptation. For innovation to move forward, the old order must die. Typically, investors are among those who fear this sort of change.

This brings me back to my original question: “Why aren’t I bothered by the destruction inherent in market downturns?” Prior to having my genome sequenced and analyzed, I had no clue. In fact, I never expected to have any sort of insight into why I am the way I am.

That changed when my genome was sequenced and analyzed by brilliant genomicists. Besides having markers associated with autism, I have significant contribution of genes associated with Neanderthal ancestry. Both characteristics are believed to reduce emotional sensitivities, though hopefully not in any sort of sociopathic way. In fact, the analysis of my genome was unsettling in many ways… simply because I saw so many of my personal characteristics in the code of my DNA. I’m not saying we are biological machines.

I am saying, however, that there are sophisticated and subtle things about every one of our personalities and natures rooted in our genes. Next week, I think I’ll get around to telling you how my sequenced genome settled a generations long argument my father’s family has had about our racial makeup.

I think it’s appropriate that there be some sort of personal impact from genomics. The decoding of our software is, after all, changing everything. Genomics may be the single greatest source of creative destruction our species has yet seen.

What we know today about the genetic causes of disease is changing medicine, but we’ve only begun to unravel the double helices of our fates. Every day, some new genetic discovery opens up new avenues to increase human health and health spans. The implementation of this new knowledge will not be a consistent process. It will be creative destruction at its best, yielding dramatic improvements in healthcare technologies while leaving entire sectors of the economy in ruin.

Despite the fact that everybody knows our healthcare institutions are obsolete and failing, many of those in the crosshairs of creative destruction are whistling in the wind, pretending that all is well. Moreover, they will resist change with their considerable institutional resources. But they will lose. And they will lose sooner than almost anybody expects.

Last week, I talked about Eric Topol, M.D., the cardiologist, geneticist, researcher, and writer who serves as Director of the Scripps Translational Science Institute in La Jolla, California. Topol is predicting rapid and radical change in the ways that healthcare is delivered. I’m currently reading his new book, “The Patient Will See You Now: The Future of Medicine is in Your Hands.”

If you don’t want to read a book, I would really recommend watching the following video about the way digital medicine will change and improve healthcare. This wakeup call is appropriately titled, “Creative Destruction of Medicine.”


Delivered at Strictly Mobile 2014 in Mountain View, CA, it is primarily about the impact of mobile devices on healthcare, but he refers to the much bigger impact that genomics will have on medicine. It’s not surprising that he only glosses over this area, however, as it is a topic way too big for a YouTube video.
Patrick Cox

From the TransTech Digest research team: To begin reading Patrick’s Tech Digest newsletter for free each Friday, simply click here. At Patrick’s Transformational Technologies site, you can join Tech Digest by entering your email address at the top right of the page. Thanks for reading.



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A Correction Fireside Chat with the "10th Man"

By Jared Dillian 

I don’t really enjoy these things like I used to. Keep in mind, I’ve traded through a lot of blowups, going back to 1997...1998...2001...2002-2003...2007-2009...2011...Today. They all kind of feel the same after a while.

Nobody wins from corrections except for the traders, which today mostly means computers. I forget who said this: “In bear markets, bulls lose money and bears lose money. Everyone loses money. The purpose of a bear market is to destroy capital.”....And that’s what is going on today.

For starters, long-term investors inevitably get sucked into the media MARKET TURMOIL spin cycle and puke their well-researched, treasured positions at the worst possible time. But I’m not trying to minimize the significance of a correction, because some corrections turn into bona fide bear markets. And if you are in a bear market, you should get out. If it is only a correction, you probably want to add to your holdings.

How can you tell the difference?

My Opinion: This Is a Correction


So what were the two big bear markets in the last 20 years? The dot com bust, and the global financial crisis. Two generational bear markets in a 10 year span. Hopefully something we’ll never see again. In one case, we had the biggest stock market bubble ever and in the other, the biggest housing/debt crisis ever.

Both good reasons for a bear market.

What are we selling off for again? Something wrong with China?

Again, not to minimize what is going on in China, because it is now the world’s second-largest economy. Forget the GDP statistics. After a decade of ridiculous overinvestment, it is possible that they’re on the cusp of a very serious recession, whether they admit it or not. But the good news is that the yuan is strong and can weaken a lot, and interest rates are high and can come down a lot. China has a lot of policy tools it can use (unlike the United States).

Let’s think about these “minor” corrections over the last 20 years.....
1997: Asian Financial Crisis
1998: Russia/Long-Term Capital Management (LTCM)
2001: 9/11
2011: Greece

All of these were VIX 40+ events.


In retrospect, these “crises” look kind of silly, even junior varsity. The Thai baht broke—big deal.

Russia’s debt default was only a problem because it was a surprise. And the amount of money LTCM was down—about $7 billion—is peanuts by today’s standards. After 9/11, stocks were down 20% in a week. The ultimate buying opportunity.

And in hindsight, we can see that the market greatly underestimated the ECB’s commitment to the euro.
So what are we going to say when we look back at this correction in 10-20 years? What will we name it? Will we call it the China crisis? I mean, if it’s a VIX 40 event, it needs a name.

I try to have what I call forward hindsight. Like, I pretend it’s the future and I’m looking back at the present as if it were the past. My guess is that we will think this was pretty stupid.

What to Buy


I saw a sell-side research note yesterday suggesting that this crisis is marking the capitulation bottom in emerging markets. I haven’t fully evaluated that statement, but I have a hunch that it is correct. China is cheap, by the way. But if China is too scary, they are just giving away India. I literally cannot buy enough. And I have a hunch that Brazil’s president, Dilma Rousseff, is going to be impeached and the situation in Brazil is going to improve relatively soon.

Think about it. The most contrarian trade on the board. Long the big, old, bloated, corrupt, ugly, bear market BRICs. Also the scariest trade. But the scary trades are often the good trades. There’s more. If you think we’re in the midst of a generational health care/biotech bull market, prices are a lot more attractive today than they were a few weeks ago. I also like gold here because central banks are no longer omnipotent.

That reminds me—there was something I wanted to say on China. The reason everyone hates China isn’t because of the economic situation. It’s because they made complete fools of themselves trying to prop up the stock market. So virtually overnight, we went from “China can do anything” to “China is full of incompetent idiots.” Zero confidence in the authorities.

You want to know when this crisis is going to end? When China manages to restore confidence. When they have that “whatever it takes” moment, like Draghi. If they keep easing monetary policy, sooner or later there will be an effect.

I Am Bored


I used to get all revved up about this stuff. That’s when I made my living timing tops and bottoms. I don’t do that anymore. I do fundamental work, and I go to the gym and play racquetball. The mark-to-market is a nuisance. Also, if you can’t get excited about a VIX 50 event, you have probably been trading for too long.
There is a silver lining. The disaster scenario, where the credit markets collapse due to lack of liquidity, isn’t happening. Everyone is hiding and too scared to trade.

Honestly, high-grade credit isn’t acting all that bad. And it shouldn’t. I don’t see any big changes in the default rate. Anyway, if you want to go be a hero and bid with both hands, be my guest. It’s best to be careful and average into stuff. These prices will look pretty good a couple of months from now, I think.

Jared Dillian
Jared Dillian

If you enjoyed Jared's article, you can sign up for The 10th Man, a free weekly letter, at mauldineconomics.com. Follow Jared on Twitter @dailydirtnap

The article The 10th Man: A Correction Fireside Chat was originally published at mauldineconomics.com.


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Sunday, August 30, 2015

Why Stocks Could Fall 50% if the Fed Makes the Wrong Move

By Justin Spittler

One of the most brilliant investors in the world just made a stunning call…..


Ray Dalio is the founder of Bridgewater Associates, the world’s largest hedge fund. Dalio manages nearly $170 billion in assets. He has one of the best investing track records in the business. When he speaks, we listen. Dalio has been saying for a long time that governments and businesses around the world have borrowed far too much money. He thinks their high levels of debt have created an extremely fragile and dangerous situation.

The stats back up Dalio’s view. In the United States, government debt as a percentage of gross domestic product (GDP) is 102%...its highest level since World War II.



Countries around the world are in a similar position. Japan’s debt-to-GDP ratio is at 226% and climbing. In Italy, government debt/GDP jumped from 100% in 2007 to 132% in 2014. Dalio explained how these extreme debt levels are one reason for the recent market volatility we’ve been telling you about…

These long term debt cycle forces are clearly having big effects on China, oil producers, and emerging countries which are overly indebted in dollars.

•  In an article published yesterday, Dalio said the Fed should start another round of quantitative easing...…

Quantitative easing (QE) is when a central bank buys bonds or other assets to lower interest rates and boost asset prices. It’s mostly just another name for money printing. The Fed started QE in a desperate attempt to stave off disaster during the 2007-2008 financial crisis. It launched the first round in November 2008…a second round in November 2010…and a third round in September 2012. It stopped its last round of QE last October.

The first three rounds of QE fueled a big bull market in US stocks. The S&P 500 has gained 113% since the Fed started QE in 2008. Dalio thinks the Fed should bring QE back. It’s a bold call, and one that most economists disagree with. Most economists expect the Fed to raise rates soon. Raising rates would tighten monetary conditions…essentially the opposite of QE.

•  Dalio is worried the Fed won’t get it right..…

Dalio thinks the Fed will raise rates, even if it’s just to “save face.” He pointed out that the Fed has threatened to raise rates so many times that not raising rates would hurt its credibility. Dalio’s big concern is that the world is too indebted to handle a rate hike. He thinks it could cause a financial disaster like a stock market crash, or worse.

In a letter to clients earlier this year, Dalio made a comparison to 1937, when the world was in a similar situation of having way too much debt. He explained that the Fed made a huge mistake by raising rates, and it caused the stock market to plummet 50%.

The danger is that something similar could happen if the Fed raises rates today.

•  We asked Dan Steinhart, executive editor of Casey Research, for his take..…

Here’s his response…...


I don’t know what the Fed’s going to do. That’s a guessing game. What’s important is Dalio’s point that we’re in an extremely fragile situation. The world has too much debt, and the Fed’s margin for error is tiny. If it takes a wrong step and stocks plummet 50%, it could cause a bigger financial crisis than in 2008.

So the real question is, do you trust the US government and the Fed to manage this dangerous situation?
I don’t. This is the same Fed that blew two huge bubbles in the last twenty years. First the 1999 tech bubble…then the even bigger housing bubble, which almost took down the whole financial system when it popped in 2007.

And keep in mind – this is all a gigantic experiment. The Fed is using tools, like QE, that it had never used before the financial crisis. No one in the Fed, the US government, or anywhere else knows how this is going to work out.

Who knows…maybe the Fed will surprise us and successfully guide the economy through this dangerous period. But that’s not an outcome I’d bet my savings on. Dan went on to explain two things you can do to prepare for another financial crisis. One, own physical gold. Unlike stocks, bonds, or cash, it’s the only financial asset that has value no matter what happens to the financial system.

Two, put some of your wealth outside the “blast radius” of a financial crisis. We wrote a new book with all of our best advice on how to do this. And we’ll send it to you today for practically nothing…we just ask you to pay $4.95 to cover our processing costs. Click here to claim your copy.



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Saturday, August 29, 2015

Citizenship as a Weapon: Travel Controls and What You Can Do About It

By Nick Giambruno

It’s an extremely potent weapon, yet most are not even aware of its existence. That is, unless they have been unfortunate enough to be on the receiving end of it.

The weapon I’m referring to is travel controls, also known as people controls. It’s the power any government has to limit the ability of its citizens to travel. They do this by restricting the issuance of travel documents like passports. Any government can use this weapon can at a moment’s notice. It just needs to find a convenient pretext. Many countries in the past have notoriously turned to people controls. For example, the Soviet Union would routinely revoke the citizenship of its perceived internal enemies.

Recently, look at how the Dominican Republic stripped tens of thousands of people of their citizenship with no due process. Or how the Syrian government previously refused to renew the passports of Syrians abroad whom it suspected of being associated with the opposition. Or how the US government revoked Edward Snowden’s passport with the stroke of a pen. These are but a few of countless examples. The point here is not to pick good guys and bad guys. The point is that there are many instances throughout history and modern times that prove that you don’t own your own passport or citizenship… the government does. And they use them as a weapon.

If you hold political views that your government doesn’t like, don’t be surprised if they restrict your travel options. Unfortunately, the situation is getting worse. Over the last couple of years, there have been several attempts to pass a bill that would make it easier for the US government to cancel the passport of anyone accused of owing $50,000 or more in taxes. I suspect that sooner or later Congress will pass this bill. Fortunately, there is a way to protect yourself from these repressive measures. More on that in a bit, but first let’s look at the most common forms of travel controls.

Different Shapes and Colors


Desperate governments always seek to control money with capital controls and people with travel controls.
Here are the three most common forms of the latter:

1. Soft Travel Controls
These include arbitrary fees and burdensome bureaucratic procedures. These measures amount to unofficial travel controls. It’s similar to how FATCA works with money. FATCA doesn’t make it illegal to move capital outside of the US. But it achieves the same effect by imposing onerous regulations that can make it impractical. In the same sense, the government could achieve de facto people controls through deliberately excessive rules and regulations.

2. Migration Controls
Migration controls are official restrictions on the movement of a country’s citizens. Sometimes governments will put restrictions on certain citizens from leaving the country. This is especially true during times of crisis and for those who have accumulated some savings. Many people feel that they can simply wait till things get bad and then exit. But it’s likely the politicians will have slammed the door shut by then. For example, after Castro came to power in Cuba, the government used to make its citizens apply for an exit visa to leave the island. They did not grant it easily.

3. Revoking Citizenship and Passport
This is the most severe form of people and travel controls. Preventing people from leaving has always been the hallmark of an authoritarian regime. Unfortunately the practice is growing in so-called liberal democracies for ever more trivial offenses. In the US, for example, the government can cancel your passport if they accuse you of a felony. Many people think felonies only consist of major crimes like robbery and murder. But that isn’t true.

The ever expanding mountain of laws and regulations has criminalized even the most mundane activities. A felony is not as hard to commit as you might think. Many victimless “crimes” are felonies. A study has found that the average American inadvertently commits three felonies a day. So, if the US government really wants to cancel your US passport, it can find some technicality to do so…. for anyone.

Second Passports - An Antidote to Travel Controls


Here’s what my colleague and the always insightful Jeff Thomas has to say about travel controls:
As a country approaches an economic collapse, a crystal ball is not necessary to predict that, amongst the actions of the government, will be increased currency controls, travel controls, tariffs, and a host of other last-ditch efforts to keep the sheep penned in - to assure their presence for a final shearing.

What remains for the reader to determine, if he is a resident of one of the nations that is presently in decline, is whether he: a) believes that, in the future, his ability to travel internationally may be either restricted or prohibited; and b) whether he should take steps to assure his liberty for the future. If so, it might be wise to do so before he actually has lost his ability to travel.

If you have only one passport, you’re vulnerable to travel controls. I think it’s absolutely essential to obtain the political diversification benefits of having a second passport. You’ll protect yourself against travel controls. You’ll give yourself peace of mind knowing that you will always have options.

Among other things, having a second passport allows you to invest, bank, travel, reside, and do business in places that you could not before. More options mean more freedom and opportunity. I believe obtaining a second passport makes sense no matter what happens.

Unfortunately, getting one isn’t easy. There are no solutions that are at the same time cheap, easy, fast, and legitimate. Worse, there’s a lot of misinformation and bad advice out there that could cause you big problems. It’s essential to have a trusted resource to guide you through the process. That’s where International Man comes in.

You need to know the best countries to obtain a second passport in and exactly how to do it. We cover that in great actionable detail in our Going Global publication. Normally, this book retails for $99. But we believe this book is so important, especially right now, that we’ve arranged a way for US residents to get a free copy. Click here to secure your copy.

The article was originally published at internationalman.com.


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Thursday, August 27, 2015

Protection Against this Weeks Correction Was Just One Click Away

This weeks market correction has the average trader and even some pros scratching their heads wondering what they could have done different. But traders like our trading partner John Carter of Simpler Options dream of markets like this. The spike in volatility creates amazing opportunities but also creates sleepless nights for most traders and fund managers alike. But your positions can be held without losing any sleep if you have the right protection in place. Sound difficult or to good to be true? Well, it's neither.

This market correction is not over so this is a perfect time to download John's latest version of his free eBook. And it's great timing since we have been telling our readers that we are partnering with John on another great event in September and you really need to be familiar with John's trading methods to fully take advantage of what we will be doing in the next few weeks.

In this free options trading eBook you will learn.....

  *  How to use leverage to grow your account exponentially or free up excess capital

  *  How to create protection for each one of your positions

  *  What the options basics are so you’re never confused by an options chain again

  *  The essentials to managing your position at expiration

  *  The two different types of settlement

  *  The key options terms you need to know

  *  The most important factor to your options trading success

       ......and much much more

It's crunch time, download the eBook here and get ready to benefit during these volatile times.

See you in the markets!
The Stock Market Club


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Monday, August 24, 2015

Playing the Chinese Trump Card

By John Mauldin

“I know the Chinese. I’ve made a lot of money with the Chinese. I understand the Chinese mind.” – Donald Trump, 2011

Back in the olden days (pre-2000 or so), information junkies like me relied on printed newspapers, paper magazines, TV newscasts, and snail mail newsletters. All these channels still exist, but they can’t begin to compete with the constant stream of data rushing into our tablets and smartphones. And on some days the stream rushes faster.

Last week, for instance, it seemed I couldn’t go five minutes without another story on either (a) China or (b) Donald Trump. For a day or so, I really wondered if someone had planted malware in my browser to make me think all other topics were inconsequential. It was all Trump and China, all day and all night. China has pushed the Fed into second place (for a few days at least) – perhaps we should be grateful that at least something has. Of course, there is the little problem that a bear market might be in the offing. Commodity prices seem to be in the toilet. Global currency markets are throwing up. Isn’t the world supposed to be on vacation in August?

Let’s see if we can find a connecting thought or three among all these topics. Plus, I want to show you how the current market meltdown is being brought to you courtesy of your friendly US Federal Reserve Bank. As our starting point, though, let’s cast an eye at The Donald and Chinese currency manipulation.

“Nobody Does Anything”

As we all know by now, on Aug. 11 the People’s Bank of China changed the way it manages the renminbi daily trading band against the US dollar. The result was a two day drop for the RMB and a lot of consternation on trading floors around the world.

Taking questions at an event in Michigan that day, Donald Trump had this to say:
I think you have to do something to rein in China. They devalued their currency today. They’re making it absolutely impossible for the United States to compete, and nobody does anything. China has no respect for President Obama whatsoever, whatsoever.

Well, you have to take strong action. How can we compete? They continuously cut their currency. They devalue their currency. And I have been saying this for years. They have been doing this for years. This isn’t just starting. This was the largest devaluation they have had in two decades. They make it impossible for our businesses, our companies to compete.
                       
They think we’re run by a bunch of idiots. And what’s going on with China is unbelievable, the largest devaluation in two decades. It’s honestly – great question – it’s a disgrace.” Before you dismiss this as nonsense, remember that it comes from a Wharton School graduate.

Still not impressed? You’re right; it is indeed nonsense. Trump and all those who prattle on about Chinese currency manipulation have the economic comprehension of a parakeet. Is Trump really so clueless?

In one sense, it doesn’t matter. Trump isn’t talking to most of us. He draws an audience of frustrated, mostly middle-class Americans who are still hurting from the Great Recession. They want to blame someone. China is an easy target. So are illegal immigrants and Mexico and other faceless culprits. Furthermore, his audience has legitimate concerns. They are fully aware that both political parties ignore them.

A recent Gallup poll shows that 75% of our country believes there is significant corruption in government. They’re tired of it. They want to try something different. It is telling that a recent Michigan poll of Republican party activists found that 55% would go with either untested non politicians or Ted Cruz, who is about as much of an outsider as you can find inside the Washington DC Beltway.

I find almost nothing attractive about Donald Trump, but significant numbers in both parties have clearly demonstrated that they are looking for real change. Shades of Greece and Syriza’s coming to power, or France and the startling surge by Marine Le Pen’s Front National. The US is beginning to experience what our European friends have been living through the past few years.

Back to Trump and currency manipulation. I could do a sentence-by-sentence analysis of his populist harangue on China, but let’s take the really egregious statement: How can we compete? They continuously cut their currency. They devalue their currency. And I have been saying this for years. They have been doing this for years. This isn’t just starting. This was the largest devaluation they have had in two decades. They make it impossible for our businesses, our companies to compete.

No, they haven’t. This whole myth that China has purposely kept their currency undervalued needs to be completely excised from the economic discussion. First off, the two largest currency manipulating central banks currently at work in the world are (in order) the Bank of Japan and the European Central Bank. And two to four years ago the hands down leading manipulator would have been the Federal Reserve of the United States. The leaders/aggressors in the currency wars come and go.

Today, the euro is off over 30% from its highs, as is the Japanese yen. Numerous other currencies are likewise well into double digit slides. China has moved maybe 3 to 4%. Oh, wow.

Secondly, Donald (and to be fair I should address this to Senators Schumer and Graham, et al., too) the Chinese have not been continuously cutting their currency for years. In fact, if they have manipulated their currency, it was first to make it even stronger when the dollar was falling and then to hold those gains in the face of the steadily rising dollar. Meanwhile the rest of the world (Japan, Europe, Great Britain, Brazil, India, among others) was letting their currencies drift down.

The simple fact is that the Chinese currency rose by 20% over the last five years up until a week ago, for reasons we will examine a little later. It is utterly wrong headed to call a 20% rise over almost 10 years “continuous devaluation.” Yes, prior to that time they did allow their currency to devalue rather precipitously, but if you look back and think about it, they were faced with something of a crisis at the time. Most currencies do fall during periods of economic stress.

Don’t get me wrong. The United States and China have a several page list of issues that need to be worked out between them. If you read my recent book on China, you learned about more than a few of those problems. But given that the Federal Reserve has been the most egregious currency manipulator in the world over the last five years, hearing the pot calling the kettle black probably sticks in the craw of most non US citizens. I understand it makes for a great populist harangue. It’s always easiest to blame our problems on someone else. But it doesn’t get us anywhere we want to go.

Back to the main story. Let’s look at this fascinating chart from my friend Chris Whalen over at the Kroll Bond Rating Agency:


Chris writes:

With the end of QE in sight in 2014, the dollar began to climb against most major currencies with the exception of the yuan, which remained effectively pegged against the dollar because of intervention by the PBOC. The yuan has, in fact, appreciated steadily against the dollar since 2006 and continued to move higher within the managed foreign exchange regime maintained by the Chinese government. 

Until last week, the PBOC had been using its foreign exchange reserves to cope with the increased demand for dollars from domestic investors. The decision to end the defense of the currency has economic as well as financial ramifications. For example, investors are starting to wonder just how much foreign currency debt China has accumulated to fund infrastructure investment as well as foreign ventures, and whether this total is reflected in official debt statistics.

Oil and copper are priced in dollars. From the point of view of China, and much of the rest of the world, oil is up several times in the last 15 years, and copper is up 2 to 3 times, even after the recent selloffs. From an inflation-adjusted standpoint, the rest of the world just sees things as getting back to normal. A strong dollar can do that.

Chinese Déjà Vu

Trump’s China complaints are nothing new. I wrote an entire issue on this topic five years ago (and Jonathan Tepper and I dealt with it at length in both Endgame and Code Red.) At that time, economist Paul Krugman and a group of senators led by New York Democrat Chuck Schumer wanted to impose a 25% tariff on Chinese imports. This is from my March 20, 2010, issue: I probably shouldn't take on a Nobel Laureate who got his prize for his work on trade, but this truly scares me. People pay attention to this nonsense, including the five senators, led by Schumer of New York, who want to start the process of targeting China.

First, the Chinese have got to be wondering what they have to do to make these guys happy. In 2005 they were demanding a 30% revaluation of the Chinese yuan. And over the next three years the yuan actually rose by 22% at a gradual and sustained pace. Then the credit crisis hit, and China again pegged their currency [even as the dollar got weaker!]. From their standpoint, what else were they to do? Force their country into a recession to appease our politicians?

They responded by a massive forcing of loans to their businesses and governments and huge infrastructure projects. Kind of like our stimulus, except they got a lot more infrastructure to show for their money. It remains to be seen how wise that policy was, and how large the bad (non performing) loans will be that came from that push – just as there are those (your humble analyst included) who do not think the way we went about the stimulus plan in the US was the wisest allocation of capital.

But the reality is that the Chinese will do what is in their best interest. I wrote in 2005 that the yuan would rise slowly over time. The political posturing of Schumer, et al., was counterproductive then, and it still is now.

My prediction? The Chinese will begin to allow the yuan to rise again sometime this year, just as they did three years ago, because it will be to their advantage. A stronger yuan will act as a buffer to inflation, which they may face due to the massive stimulus they created. They are going to need some help in that area. But it will be 5–7% a year, so as not to create a shock to their export economy. Not 25% at one time. And at some point they will allow the yuan to float against the dollar. They know they will have to in order to get the currency status they want.

Back then, it was Schumer and Krugman who wanted to “rein in” China. Now we have Trump saying more or less the same things. Look at what happened in the intervening five years, in this chart from Krugman’s home-base New York Times.


And sure enough, right on schedule and as I predicted in 2010, the RMB began to slowly rise and rose through early 2014. This was about the same time that “China stopped acting Chinese,” as I wrote earlier this month. At about that time, China Beige Book detected a noticeable shift in Chinese business behavior, when companies stopped using the government’s stimulus to add new capacity.

Our hypothesis, you may recall, is that the Chinese monetary stimulus began going into stocks instead of capital improvement projects. That inflow led to the stock bubble that has popped over the last few weeks. Which resulted in an apparent panic in the halls of Chinese government.

Code Red at the PBOC

Sorting through the approximately 47,000 China reports people sent me in the last 10 days, I see two broad categories of analysis. To continue reading this article from Thoughts from the Frontline – a free weekly publication by John Mauldin, renowned financial expert, best-selling author, and Chairman of Mauldin Economics – please click here.



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Saturday, August 22, 2015

Why You Should Go to Africa Instead of College

By Doug Casey

Recently Doug Casey was a guest on the always excellent podcast, The Tom Woods Show. Tom and Doug talked about the enormous economic potential in Africa, Doug’s efforts to build a truly free market country, and better uses of your time and money than going to college.

It’s an exciting and informative conversation.


Tom Woods: What a pleasure and a delight it is to welcome back to the show Doug Casey. Doug is a libertarian economist, best selling financial author, international investor, entrepreneur, and the founder and chairman of Casey Research. Doug, welcome back to the show.

Doug Casey: Thanks, Tom. It is my pleasure.

Tom: You’ve been up to some interesting activity in Africa that I’d like to ask you about. Let’s start off by telling us what you’ve been busy doing there.

Doug: Well, the last two weeks, I’ve been visiting the Islamic Republic of Mauritania with a short side trip to Senegal. I’ve been pursuing my hobby, which is to propose to a backward country a plan for complete and total free marketization… including taking the country itself public on a major stock exchange and distributing most of the shares directly to the people who theoretically own the government assets. I felt like I had Maria Muldaur’s “Midnight at the Oasis” playing in the back of my mind the whole time I was there.

Tom: Suppose you got everything you wanted, what would the outcome look like?

Doug: Well, 100% of all government assets, land, state owned companies - everything - initially go into a corporation and we distribute the shares.

Let’s say, 70% pro-rata to every man, woman, and child in the country, so they don’t just theoretically own the government, now they actually do. 15% would be put it in trust for the next unborn generation to defuse that time bomb. 10% would be distributed to people who, let’s say, are of significant help to making this happen, and people who are important, whose rice bowls would be broken, and 5% to take public in major stock markets to raise some capital. Then we get rid of all duties, taxes, and regulations.

Dubai was absolutely nothing in 1980. You know what Dubai is now. If we go back further, in 1960, Hong Kong and Singapore both were very poor and look what has happened to them. So I think in today’s world if somebody is daring enough to want to do this, I think it could be of world historic importance. So I’m looking for the right guy.

Tom: I’d like to get a glimpse inside of a meeting like this. If you’re sitting down with the president, you’re sitting down with top officials, how do you make that case, especially when the response is going to be, “What’s in it for me”?

Doug: Well, that’s always the first question, of course. I start my presentation with three things I can do for you, Mr. President. It’s always a question of the benefit to the buyer. Number one, this plan will make you legitimately a multibillionaire. That always goes down very smoothly, because they know that doing what Mobutu and Mugabe did doesn’t work quite as well now as it did in the past. So it gets their attention.

Number two, the people will love you and treat you as the new George Washington. That sounds pretty good too. Half the time in these places most of the population wants to kill them. And number three, we will put you on the front cover of all the world’s magazines in a favorable light for the next decade. Now that sounds good, because these people, if they are even known to exist, are considered pariahs.

So they always listen to the rest of presentation. Of course then things start to go wrong… usually from people under the president. It’s the people under the president who are usually making the big money, not so much the president himself. So they are often the problem.

It always makes for a fun adventure and interesting cocktail party stories that I can tell and retell to people for hours. But it’s my hobby. It’s not an occupation. I haven’t made any money on it yet, although I always have a plan B when I go to these countries: look for mining concessions and so forth.

Tom: Suppose you had to do it all over again. Let’s say you turned 18 in 2015. Have conditions changed to the point where you would take a different path, and incidentally would you go to college?

Doug: I would definitely not go to college. Even then, I only did it because everybody from my socioeconomic class was going to college, so there was no thought involved on my part. It was just like going from eighth grade into high school. I counsel students against it today. College serves no useful purpose unless you want to learn a trade like doctoring or lawyering or you need a piece of paper to practice a particular occupation, or there is a formal discipline, like a hard science or engineering.

You will pick up lots of bad ideas. You will spend a huge amount of money, get yourself under a huge financial rock that will take you years to dig yourself out from under. What I suggest people do instead is lay out what the most intelligent thing to do with that four years of time and probably $200,000 of capital. I like the idea of traveling. The place that I would put first and foremost on my travel list today for economic reasons is Africa. Go someplace where you can be a big fish in a small pond quickly.

Tom: Back in the ’50s and ’60s in the wake of decolonization in Africa, you had a bunch of Western educated semi-Marxist political leaders who were nationalizing property and confiscating assets from rich people and so on, you wouldn’t touch Africa with a ten foot pole. What has changed since then?

Doug: Well, politics always draws the worst kinds of people of course. Most of the presidents of Africa even today are ex-generals or ex-colonels or something like that. It has economically improved a lot. The population has exploded and it’s going to explode more in the years to come. It’s chaotic. But if you can bring order to chaos, that’s opportunity.

If you go to the Orient, there are a lot of rich, smart people there. You are not going to have much of a competitive advantage. That’s true to a lesser extent in South America too. Africa is actually the place, I think, you want to go.

Tom: Do you have any particular parts of Africa? I’ve heard good things about Botswana. Do you have any place in particular that attracts you?

Doug: Other than South Africa, I’d say Botswana is the most developed country in Southern Africa for sure. But where would I go now? Well, of course, the nice thing about Africa is that it’s divided basically into three parts, Anglophone Africa, Francophone Africa, and Lusophone Africa, and my French is still adequately conversational. I lived in France and Switzerland for a year during college. My Spanish is functional. The language thing is a consideration of course. But on the other hand, most of the educated people in most countries of the world speak English, which is the world’s lingua franca today.

Where would I go? There are around 50 countries in Africa. I like small, obscure ones. Maybe Ghana is too developed. Look at Benin or Togo or maybe the Ivory Coast. Mauritania, where I just was, is actually quite interesting. Guinea-Bissau, Guinea-Conakry, you’ve got lots of choices. Somebody should get on a plane and just take a look. Then when they get into a country, a capital city, which is always where the action happens, get on the telephone to local lawyers and real estate agents and businessmen to set up appointments and see who you can get along with. One thing will lead to another.

I wouldn’t go to Africa as a lifestyle choice. I would go there for economic reasons and for the adventure that it would yield. I’d say as a lifestyle choice, it comes down to South America or the Orient. I lived in the Orient for years and I loved it.

Tom: What about the language barrier?

Doug: Well, I lived in Hong Kong and when I was there it was much more English. Of course everybody in China is learning English today, everybody, everywhere that you basically would want to talk to. I’m not trying to be elitist but the educated people - put it that way - all speak English today as a second language. This is one of the things that will slow down your progress on learning the local language, is that they all want to speak English to you. So that’s a double edged sword… but it’s really an advantage. No, don’t worry about the language problem.

Tom: Well, I sure appreciate your time, Doug Casey. You are the International Man himself, and we are always grateful for your time.

Doug: Well, thank you Tom. It is a pleasure to talk to you under any circumstances.

Editor’s Note: International Man is all about helping you make the most of your personal freedom and financial opportunities around the world. A great way to get started is to check out Going Global 2015. Normally, this book retails for $99. But we believe this book is so important, especially right now, that we’ve arranged a way for US residents to get a free copy. Click here to secure your copy.

The article was originally published at internationalman.com.


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Friday, August 21, 2015

Riding the Energy Wave to the Future

By John Mauldin 

“Formula for success: rise early, work hard, strike oil.” –  J. Paul Getty

This week’s yuan devaluation was big news, but it’s really part of a much bigger saga. Events around the globe are combining to create huge economic change over the next few years. We are watching giant, multidimensional chess games played by some master players. Energy is the chessboard that connects all the players. What happens when the board changes shape in the middle of the game? If you don’t know the new energy landscape, you’ll have a hard time playing to a draw, much less winning.

Today I’ll tell you about some big shifts in the energy industry. These shifts are about as positive as can be, unless you need high oil prices to run your country. In the long run, these changes are bullish for the whole world, which I think this will surprise many of you. And though we’ve been used to thinking about energy and technology as two different facets of modern life, today they are inextricably linked.
When energy changes, everything else changes, too.

16 Candles

Thoughts from the Frontline is now entering its 16th year of continuous weekly publication. I constantly meet readers who have been with me since the beginning – and even some who read an earlier print version of my letters. I put TFTF on the Internet in August 2000 as a free letter, starting with just a few thousand names, and was amazed at how rapidly it grew. It took just a few years for me to realize that this new thing called the Internet was the real deal, and I discontinued my print version. We now push the letter out to almost one million readers each week, and the letter is posted on dozens of websites.

I began to archive the letter in January 2001; and every issue – the good, the bad, and the sometimes very ugly – is still there in the archives, just as I wrote it. I will admit there are a few paragraphs, and maybe even a whole letter or two, that I would like to go back and expunge from the record. But I think it’s better just to let it all be what it is.

Investing in energy without the risk....Here's what our trading partner John Carter is doing.

I thank you for allowing me to come into your homes and offices each week. I consider it a privilege and honor to be able to offer you my research and thoughts. This letter has been free from the beginning, and my full intent is that it will always remain that way. Longtime readers know the topics can vary widely over the course of the year. I write about what I find interesting that week. I find that writing helps me focus my own thinking.

If you are reading this for the first time, you can go to www.mauldineconomics.com, subscribe by giving us your email address, and join my one million closest friends who get my letter each week. And if you’re a regular reader, why not give me a 16th birthday present and suggest to your friends that they subscribe too! I also want to thank the staff and my partners, who make it possible for me to spend the bulk of my time thinking and writing. And traveling, of course. And now let’s think about energy.

The Cover Pic Indicator

Contrarian and value investors like to buy assets that are in distress, or at least “out of favor.” You don’t hear much about those assets at the time. That’s part of being distressed – everyone ignores you. So, following that logic, the last thing you want to buy is a stock or industry that appears on the cover page of popular financial publications. Commodity and energy bulls should take note of last weekend’s Barron’s cover.


“COMMODITIES: TIME TO BUY,” Barron’s practically screamed at its readers. In case you can’t read the fine print on the cover, it says, The harsh selloff in energy, gold, and other commodities is starting to look like capitulation. Opportunities in Exxon, Chevron, BHP, Goldcorp. Plus six funds and six ETFs to help build a position in this oversold sector.

I presume the photo is supposed to show the sun rising on an oil rig, not setting. The article quotes some very smart people who are bullish on commodities right now. Some energy stocks look like real bargains. Barron’s is simply repeating the market’s conventional wisdom: After a brutal decline, oil prices are stabilizing and should head higher as the global economy recovers.

That’s a perfectly defensible position – but I think it’s wrong.

It’s wrong because it misses a major shift in the way we produce energy. Many people think OPEC’s high oil and gas prices led to the US shale energy boom. That’s not right. The shale boom was born in a time of lower energy prices, and it was the result of new technologies that make recovering large quantities of oil and gas less expensive than ever.

I used to get the occasional letter from James Howard Kunstler, who would tell me that whatever letter I had just written was completely bass-ackwards, and how his books explained that we were going to run out of energy and then collapse. His books (Wikipedia lists about a dozen) and dozens of others warned us of Peak Oil. (For the record, James, a certain longtime editor on my staff made sure I got all your letters, reports, and more, as he is firmly in your camp! I kept smiling and saying that he was (and is) wrong; but Charley is a phenomenal editor, and you put up with a few quirks for brilliant editing that makes you look better. Besides, if the world does come to an end, I can wend my way to his survivalist farm and beg for a job and food, although I’m not exactly sure I’m ready to milk goats. Just for old time’s sake.)

I have written for years that Peak Oil is nonsense. Longtime readers know that I’m a believer in ever-accelerating technological transformation, but I have to admit I did not see the exponential transformation of the drilling business as it is currently unfolding. The changes are truly breathtaking and have gone largely unnoticed.

By now, you probably know about fracking, the technology where drillers pump liquids into a well to “fracture” the ground and release oil and gas deposits. It’s controversial in certain quarters, especially among those who hate anything carbon-related.

Fracking technology is moving forward like all other technologies: very fast. Newer techniques promise to reduce the side effects, at even lower operating costs. Furthermore, fracking is only the beginning of this revolution. The Manhattan Institute recently published an excellent (bordering on brilliant) report by Mark P. Mills, Shale 2.0: Technology and the Coming Big Data Revolution in America’s Shale Oil Fields. I highly recommend it.

Mills outlines the way the new technologies are turning this industry on its head. Shale production or “unconventional” production is really a completely new industry.

Here is a short quote: The price and availability of oil (and natural gas) are determined by three interlocking variables: politics, money, and technology. Hydrocarbons have existed in enormous quantities for millennia across the planet. Governments control land access and business freedoms. Access to capital and the nature of fiscal policy are also critical determinants of commerce, especially for capital-intensive industries. But were it not for technology, oil and natural gas would not flow, and the associated growth that these resources fuel would not materialize.

While the conventional and so-called unconventional (i.e., shale) oil industries display clear similarities in basic mechanics and operations – drills, pipes, and pumps – most of the conventional equipment, methods, and materials were not designed or optimized for the new techniques and challenges needed in shale production. By innovatively applying old and new technologies, shale operators propelled a stunningly fast gain in the productivity of shale rigs (Figure 4), with costs per rig stable or declining.


[Look at the above chart for a few moments; it’s truly staggering. In just seven years, the amount of oil per well in some shale plays has risen by a factor of 10! That is almost all due to new technologies that are increasingly coming online.]

Shale companies now produce more oil with two rigs than they did just a few years ago with three rigs, sometimes even spending less overall. At $55 per barrel, at least one of the big players in the Texas Eagle Ford shale reports a 70 percent financial rate of return. If world prices rise slightly, to $65 per barrel, some of the more efficient shale oil operators today would enjoy a higher rate of return than when oil stood at $95 per barrel in 2012.

Read that last paragraph again. Some shale operators can make good money at $55 a barrel. At $65, they can make higher returns than they did three years ago with oil at $95. I have friends here in Dallas who are raising money for wells that can do better than break even at $40 per barrel, although they think $60 is where the new normal will settle out. Texans are nothing if not optimistic.

To continue reading this article from Thoughts from the Frontline – a free weekly publication by John Mauldin, renowned financial expert, best selling author, and Chairman of Mauldin Economics – please click here.



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