Friday, October 9, 2015

Mrs. Magoo, Deflation, and Commodity Woes

By Tony Sagami 

Did you read my September 22 issue? Or my July 14 column? If you did, you could have avoided the downdraft that has pulled down stocks all across the transportation sector or even made a bundle, like the 100% gain my Rational Bear subscribers made by buying put options on Seaspan Corporation, the largest container shipping company in the world.

Don’t worry, though. Transportation stocks still have a long ways to fall, so it’s not too late to sell any trucking, shipping, or railroad stock you may own—or profit from their continued fall through shorting, put options, or inverse ETFs. This chart of the Dow Jones Transportation Average validates my negative outlook on all things transportation and shows why we’ve been so successful betting against the “movers” of the US economy.

However, the bear market for transportation stocks is far from finished.

Federal Express Crashes and Burns

Federal Express, which is the single largest weighting of the Dow Jones Transportation Average at 11.6%, delivered a trifecta of misery:
  1. Missed on revenues
  2. Missed on earnings
  3. Lowered 2016 guidance

I’m not talking about a small miss either. FedEx reported profits of $2.26 per share, well below the $2.46 Wall Street was expecting. Moreover, the company should benefit from having one extra day in the quarter, which makes the results even more disappointing.

What’s the problem?

“Weak industry demand,” according to FedEx. By the way, both Federal Express and United Parcel Service are good barometers of overall consumer spending/confidence, so that should tell you something about the (deteriorating) state of the US economy. Oh, and Federal Express announced that it will increase its rates by an average of 4.9% beginning in January 2015. Yeah, I bet that rate increase will really help with that already weak demand. The decline is even more troublesome when you consider that gasoline/diesel prices have fallen like a rock this year.

Speaking of Falling Commodity Prices

Oil, which dropped by 23% in the third quarter, isn’t the only commodity that’s falling like a rock.
  • Copper prices plunged to a six-year low.
  • Aluminum prices have also dropped to a six year low.
  • Coal prices have fallen 40% since the start of 2014.
  • Minerals aren’t the only commodities that are dropping. Sugar hit a 7-year low in August.
Commodities across the board are lower; the Thomson Reuters CoreCommodity CRB Index of 19 commodities was down 15% for the quarter and 31% over the last 12 months. Since peaking in 2008, the CRB Index is down 60%.

That’s why anybody and anything associated with the commodity food chain has been a terrible place to invest your money. Just last week:

Connecting the Dots #1: Caterpillar announced that it was going to lay off 4,000 to 5,000 people this year. That number could reach 10,000 by the end of 2016, and the company may close more than 20 plants. Layoffs are nothing new at Caterpillar—the company has reduced its total workforce by 31,000 workers since 2012.

The problem is lousy sales. Caterpillar just told Wall Street to lower its revenues forecast for 2016 by $1 billion. $1 billion!

How bad does the future have to look for a company to suddenly decide that it is going to lose $1 billion in sales? “We are facing a convergence of challenging marketplace conditions in key regions and industry sectors, namely in mining and energy,” said Doug Oberhelman, Caterpillar chairman and CEO.

Like the layoffs, vanishing sales are nothing new. 2015 is the third year in a row of shrinking sales, and 2016 will be the fourth. Caterpillar, by the way, isn’t the only heavy-equipment company in deep trouble.

Connecting the Dots #2: Last week, UK construction machinery firm and Caterpillar competitor JCB announced that it will cut 400 jobs, or 6% of its workforce, because of a massive slowdown in business in Russia, China, and Brazil.

“In the first six months of the year, the market in Russia has dropped by 70%, Brazil by 36%, and China by 47%,”said JCB CEO Graeme Macdonald. Caterpillar, the world’s biggest maker of earthmoving equipment, cut its full-year 2015 forecast in part because of the slowdown in China and Brazil.

Connecting the Dots #3: BHP Billiton announced that it is chopping its capital expenditure budget again to $8.5 billion, a stunning $10 billion below its 2013 peak. Moreover, BHP Billiton currently only has four projects in the works, two of which are almost complete, compared to 18 developments it had going just two years ago.

Overall, the mining industry—according to SNL Metals and Mining—is going to spend $70 billion less in 2015 less than it did in 2012. And in case you think metals prices are going to rebound, consider that the previous bear market for mining lasted from 1997 to 2002, which suggests at least another two years of shrinking budgets and pain.

Repeat After Me!

I have said this many, many times before, but repeat after me.....ZIRP (zero interest rate policy) and QE are DEFLATIONARY!

The reason is that cheap (almost free) money encourages over-investment as well as keeping zombie companies alive that should have gone out of business. Both of those forces are highly deflationary, and unless you think that Mrs. Magoo (Janet Yellen) is going to aggressively start jacking up interest rates, you better adjust your portfolio for years and years and years of deflation.

While the rest of the investment world has been struggling, here at Rational Bear, we’ve been doing just fine.

Here are the results of six recent trades: 38% return from puts on an oil services fund, 16.6% return from an ETF that shorts industry sectors, 200% return from puts on an auction house, 50% return from puts on a jeweler, 50% return from puts on a social media giant and 100% return from puts on a container shipping company.

And we still have more irons in the fire. It’s time to be bearish, so I suggest you give Rational Bear a try—like it or your money back.
Tony Sagami
Tony Sagami

30 year market expert Tony Sagami leads the Yield Shark and Rational Bear advisories at Mauldin Economics. To learn more about Yield Shark and how it helps you maximize dividend income, click here.

To learn more about Rational Bear and how you can use it to benefit from falling stocks and sectors, click here.

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Monday, October 5, 2015

Interested in Directional Trading Strategies?

The recent bear market has led a LOT of people to reconsider how to best trade it. And the best way might be directional trading. And the best person to show you how just might be Bruce Marshall of Simpler Options.

Check out this class he's putting on....

Beginners Guide to Directional Income Trading In a Bear Market

It's a mouthful to say but it's EASY to learn and Bruce is one of the best underground traders around who knows how it really works.

Check out the details HERE

He shows you LIVE how it works on October 7th from 8 - 10 pm est

Hope to see you there!
The Stock Market Club

Get Simpler Options free eBooK "Understanding Options"....Just Click Here

Saturday, October 3, 2015

A Worrying Set Of Signals

By John Mauldin 

There is presently a bull market in complacency. There are very few alarm bells going off anywhere; and frankly, in reaction to my own personal complacency, I have my antenna up for whatever it is I might be missing that would indicate an approaching recession.

It was very easy to call the last two recessions well in advance because we had inverted yield curves. In the US at least, that phenomenon has a perfect track record of predicting recessions. The problem now is that, with the Federal Reserve holding the short end of the curve at the zero bound, there is no way we can get an inverted yield curve, come hell or high water. For the record, inverted yield curves do not cause recessions, they simply indicate that something is seriously out of whack with the economy. Typically, a recession shows up three to four quarters later.

I know from my correspondence and conversations that I am not the only one who is concerned with the general complacency in the markets. But then, we’ve had this “bull market in complacency” for two years and things have generally improved, albeit at a slower pace in the current quarter.

With that background in mind, the generally bullish team at GaveKal has published two short essays with a rather negative, if not ominous, tone. Given that we are entering the month of October, known for market turbulence, I thought I would make these essays this week’s Outside the Box. One is from Pierre Gave, and the other is from Charles Gave. It is not terribly surprising to me that Charles can get bearish, but Pierre is usually a rather optimistic person, as is the rest of the team.

I was in Toronto for two back-to-back speeches before rushing back home this morning. I hope you’re having a great week. So now, remove sharp objects from your vicinity and peruse this week’s Outside the Box.

Your enjoying the cooler weather analyst,
John Mauldin

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A Worrying Set Of Signals

By Pierre Gave
Regular readers will know that we keep a battery of indicators to gauge, among other things, economic activity, inflationary pressure, risk appetite and asset valuations. Most of the time this dashboard offers mixed messages, which is not hugely helpful to the investment process. Yet from time to time, the data pack points unambiguously in a single direction and experience tells us that such confluences are worth watching. We are today at such a point, and the worry is that each indicator is flashing red.

Growth: The three main indices of global growth have fallen into negative territory: (i) the Q-indicator (a diffusion index of leading indicators), (ii) our diffusion index of OECD leading indicators, and (iii) our index of economically-sensitive market prices. Also Charles’s US recession indicator is sitting right on a key threshold (see charts for all these indicators in the web version).

Inflation: Our main P-indicator is at a maximum negative with the diffusion index of US CPI components seemingly in the process of rolling over; this puts it in negative territory for the first time this year.

Risk appetite: The Gavekal velocity indicator is negative which is not surprising given weak market sentiment in recent weeks. What worries us more is the widening of interest rate spreads—at the long end of the curve, the spread between US corporate bonds rated Baa and treasuries is at its widest since 2009; at the short-end, the TED spread is back at levels seen at the height of the eurozone crisis in 2012, while the Libor-OIS spread is at a post-2008 high. Moreover, all momentum indicators for the main equity markets are at maximum negative, which has not been seen since the 2013 “taper tantrum”.

These weak readings are especially concerning, as in recent years, it has been the second half of the year when both the market and growth has picked up. We see three main explanations for these ill tidings:

1) Bottoming out: If our indicators are all near a maximum negative, surely the bottom must be in view? The contrarian in us wants to believe that a sentiment shift is around the corner. After all, most risk-assets are oversold and markets would be cheered by confirmation that the US economy remains on track, China is not hitting the wall and the renminbi devaluation was a one-off move. If this occurs, then a strong counter-trend rally should ramp up in time for Christmas.

2) Traditional indicators becoming irrelevant: Perhaps we should no longer pay much attention to fundamental indicators. After all, most are geared towards an industrial economy rather than the modern service sector, which has become the main growth driver. In the US, industrial production represents less than 10% of output, while in China, the investment slowdown is structural in nature. The funny thing is that employment numbers everywhere seem to be coming in better than expected. In this view of things, either major economies are experiencing a huge drop in labor productivity, or our indicators need a major refresh (see Long Live US Productivity!).

3) Central banks out of ammunition: The most worrying explanation for the simultaneous decline in our indicators is that air is gushing out of the monetary balloon. After more than six years of near zero interest rates, asset prices have seen huge rises, but investment in productive assets remains scarce.

Instead, leverage has run up across the globe. According to the Bank for International Settlements’ recently released quarterly review, developed economies have seen total debt (state and private) rise to 265% of GDP, compared to 229% in 2007. In emerging economies, that ratio is 167% of GDP, compared to 117% in 2007 (over the period China’s debt has risen from 153 to 235% of GDP). The problem with such big debt piles is that it is hard to raise interest rates without derailing growth.

Perhaps it is not surprising that in recent weeks the Federal Reserve has backed away from hiking rates, the European Central Bank has recommitted itself to easing and central banks in both Norway and Taiwan made surprise rate cuts. But if rates cannot be raised after six-years of rising asset prices and normalizing growth, when is a good time? And if central banks are prevented from reloading their ammunition, what will they deploy the next time the world economy hits the skids?

Hence we have two benign interpretations and one depressing one. Being optimists at heart, we want to believe that a combination of the first two options will play out. If so, then investors should be positioned for a counter-trend rally, at least in the short-term. Yet we are unsettled by the market’s muted response to the Fed’s dovish message. That would indicate that investors are leaning towards the third option. Hence, we prefer to stay protected and for now are not making a bold grab for falling knifes. At the very least, we seek more confirmation on the direction of travel.

Positioning For A US Recession

By Charles Gave
Since the end of last year I have been worried about an “unexpected” slowdown, or even recession, in the world’s developed economies (see Towards An OECD Recession In 2015). In order to monitor the situation on a daily basis, I built a new indicator of US economic activity which contains 17 components ranging from lumber prices and high-yield bond spreads to the inventory-to-sales ratio. It was necessary to construct such an indicator because six years of extreme monetary policy in the US (and other developed markets) has stripped “traditional” cyclical economic data of any real meaning (see Gauging The Chances Of A US Recession).

Understanding this diffusion index is straightforward. When the reading is positive, investors have little to worry about and should treat “dips” as a buying opportunity. When the reading is negative a US recession is a possibility. Should the reading fall below – 5 then it is time to get worried – on each occasion since 1981 that the indicator recorded such a level a US recession followed in fairly short order. At this point, my advice would generally be to buy the defensive team with a focus on long dated US bonds as a hedge. This is certainly not a time to buy equities on dips.

Today my indicator reads – 5 which points to a contraction in the US, and more generally the OECD. Such an outcome contrasts sharply with official US GDP data, which remains fairly strong. Pierre explored this discrepancy in yesterday’s Daily (see A Worrying Set Of Signals), so my point today is to offer specific portfolio construction advice in the event of a developed market contraction. My assumption in this note is simply that the US economy continues to slow. Hence, the aim is to outline an “anti-fragile” portfolio which will resist whatever brickbats are hurled at it.

During periods when the US economy has slowed, especially if it was “unexpected” by official economists, then equities have usually taken a beating while bonds have done well. For this reason, the chart below shows the S&P 500 divided by the price of a 30 year zero coupon treasury.

A few results are immediately clear:
  • Equities should be owned when the indicator is positive.
  • Bonds should be held when the indicator is negative.
  • The ratio of equities to bonds (blue line) has since 1981 bottomed at about 50 on at least six occasions. Hence, even in periods when fundamentals were not favorable to equities (2003 and 2012) the indicator identified stock market investment as a decent bet. 
Today the ratio between the S&P 500 and long dated US zeros stands at 75. 
This suggests that shares will become a buy in the coming months if they underperform bonds by a chunky 33%. The condition could also be met if US equities remain unchanged, but 30 year treasury yields decline from their current 3% to about 2%. Alternatively, shares could fall sharply, or some combination in between. 

Notwithstanding the continued relative strength of headline US economic data, I would note that the OECD leading indicator for the US is negative on a YoY basis, while regional indicators continue to crater. The key investment conclusion from my recession indicator is that equity positions, which face risks from worsening economic fundamentals, should be hedged using bonds or upping the cash component.
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The article Outside the Box: A Worrying Set Of Signals was originally published at

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Wednesday, September 30, 2015

Why You Don’t Need a Big IRA to Enjoy a Lavish Retirement

Forget what you’ve been told, you do NOT need hundreds of thousands of dollars in your IRA to retire comfortably. Especially when the market is this volatile! 

Download this free eBook and learn how you can turn a few hundred dollars into a lavish lifestyle starting right now…..for FREE.

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After you read Chuck’s tell all eBook, then you can decide how often you want your paycheck to come.

I don’t blame you if you’re skeptical.  Most people are at first, especially with the market being so volatile. But real live brokerage statements don’t lie. 

And Chuck included his actual account statements in this eBook so you could witness for yourself how perfect Hughes Perpetual Money Machine is for today’s volatile market.
Imagine receiving a steady income week after week, month after month, year after year regardless of economic conditions.

Isn’t this the sort of miracle you’ve been dreaming about your entire life?  I know I have. One can never be too rich, you know. As with most free stuff, this is a very limited offer.  So I’d encourage you to download your free eBook today, while you can. 

See you in the markets,
Stock Market Club

PS. You’ll also get a rare opportunity to view Cornerstone for Monumental Profits.  

Chuck says if it weren’t for the one secret revealed in this short video, he probably wouldn’t be the winningest trader in Int’l Live Trading history.  Doesn’t that sound like a secret you’d like to know? 

Watch profit generating video now.

Thursday, September 24, 2015

Trading 201: Position Sizing

By Jared Dillian 

This is going to be the last of the trading lessons for a while. I don’t want to turn this into a trading blog, and there are important macro things to talk about (especially next week). Here’s an imaginary scenario: someone tips you that an acquisition is going to happen. Of course, that would be insider trading, which is illegal—but let’s pretend for the purpose of this exercise that insider trading were legal.

So someone tells you that Company A is going to buy Company B and is going to pay a 100% premium.

Question: how much of your money do you put in Company B? If the answer is anything less than “All of it,” then you are an idiot.

We are talking about a 100% return in one day. Can you do better than that? No. Also, assume that the guy who told you this is 100% reliable. The information is legit. There is no chance that it’s wrong. Rationally, you should put every penny of your money into Company B stock. If you put in any less than 100%, you are behaving irrationally.....Got it?

Scenario 2: you have a vague idea that GE is going to go up. Just a hunch. How much GE should you buy?

Answer: not very much. Maybe it should be the smallest position in your portfolio. At this point in the story, think about your portfolio, or maybe even log into it. My guess is you have some very high-conviction ideas alongside some very low-conviction ideas, and that everything is just about weighted equally.

People do this all the time. They have $100,000 in 10 stocks—$10,000 a stock—regardless of conviction level. This is going to be hard for novice traders to understand. Novice traders pick stocks like I bet on baseball. I might bet against the Royals because Edinson Volquez wears his hat sideways, or I might bet on the Nationals because I am a huge Bryce Harper fan, or I might bet against the Red Sox just because.

Novice traders find it hard to believe that someone can be that sure about a stock. But I meet professional gamblers who are “that sure” about baseball games. I don’t understand how they do it, but they do it. Soros and Druckenmiller were pretty gosh darn sure when they bet against the British pound. Imagine if they had been wrong! But they knew they wouldn’t be.

Winner, Winner, Chicken Dinner

Let’s go back to about 10 years ago when Ben Mezrich wrote Bringing Down The House: The Inside Story of Six MIT Students Who Took Vegas for Millions. That was when the general public got to learn about advantage play in blackjack, that is, counting cards.

How does it work?
In one paragraph, you count cards so you can keep track of face cards (which are good) and low cards (which are bad), so if you know there’s a concentration of face cards left in the shoe, you will have a temporary statistical advantage over the dealer.

And how do you take advantage of that statistical advantage?
Duh, you bet more!

That’s what the card counters in the book did. When the count was high, they were putting in 10, 20, or even 50 times their normal bet. In fact, that’s how most casinos know they’re dealing with a card counter. Average players don’t vary their bet size. They bet the same size all the time. Average traders do too.

If you want to read more on this concept (and I highly recommend that you do), read David Sklansky’s Getting the Best of It.  It’s a gambling book, but most people I know on Wall Street have read it.


So I’m going to preach what I practice. My highest conviction position is about 80% of my portfolio (using leverage). Now, that’s varying your bet size. Most of my ideas are actually bad. Seriously. I knew a guy at Lehman who said he was wrong 80% of the time. I figured he was lying. The guy made a ton of dough. How could that be true?

If you bet the farm on the 20% of the time you are right, you can do very well. This, I think, is one of the limitations of an investment newsletter. You have these ideas, and they are in a portfolio, but they are not weighted. Some are clearly better than others. And there they all are, line items in the portfolio update, and the good ones look the same as the bad ones.

A word of caution. Novice traders should not, absolutely not, make one position 80% of their portfolio. I do it because I have 16 years of experience. You should not do this any more than you would bet 80% of your money on a baseball game (unless you know a lot about baseball). Novice traders can’t vary their bet size because they don’t know enough to tell which ideas are bad and which ones are a “sure thing.”

It’s a good way to blow yourself up.

But at some point in your investing career, you are going to come across one of those really great ideas, and you will be tempted to weight it as 10% of your portfolio, along with everything else.

Diversification! Screw diversification.

How do billionaires get to be billionaires? Funny, if you look at a list of billionaires, there’s not too many money managers in there. Some. Like Dalio, Tepper, Soros, Jones. But not many. Most billionaires got to be billionaires by starting companies and growing them. In other words, they had 100% of their portfolio in one stock. Their own.

You don’t get to be a billionaire by putting $10,000 in 10 stocks. We all can’t be billionaires. But you don’t have to be a piker.
Jared Dillian
Jared Dillian

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The article The 10th Man: Trading 201: Position Sizing was originally published at

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Wednesday, September 23, 2015

Bill's First Two Trade Recommendations....Trade AAL and NFLX tonight

Last night after the market closed, the first 20/30 Wealth Trader recommendations came out. Active members got their first trade alert notifications telling them EXACTLY which stocks to trade.

Tonight -- and every night after the market closes -- members will get an email showing them exactly how to adjust their positions for maximum gains and minimum risk, along with any new trade opportunities that opened up.

And best of all, Bill Poulos is paying for your 2nd year of The 20/30 Wealth Trader when you sign up today.

Join today and there's still time to get your 2nd year FREE and jump in on some of the initial trade recommendations.

The trade recommendations made on AAL and NFLX haven't hit the entry price yet. So if you start your trial right now, you might still have time to jump on these open trade recommendations.

And to give you some perspective:
In January of this year, the 20/30 Wealth Trader formula issued a trade recommendation on AAL that resulted in a 57.2% gain in 5 days. In August of this year, the 20/30 Wealth Trader formula issued a trade recommendation on NFLX that resulted in 78.4% in 8 days.

Obviously, there's no guarantee these type of gains will happen again. But if you have to take a loss on either of these recommendations, the most you'll lose is 5% of your account (if you follow the 20/30 Wealth Trader risk management rules.) And if Bill Poulos is right about these trades, well, let's just say you'll be happy you jumped on board in time.

So don't risk missing another trade recommendation:

Good trading,
Stock Market Club

p.s. In 2008 -- while many people watched in horror as their retirement and trading accounts got battered -- the 20/30 Wealth Trader picked winning trades at an astonishing 79% rate.

The win rate for 2015? Even better. Click here to see for yourself...

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Monday, September 21, 2015

Jim Rogers on Timeless Investing Strategies You Can Use to Profit Today

By Nick Giambruno

Recently I spoke with Jim Rogers about the most important investment lessons he has learned over the years.
Jim is a legendary investor and true international man. He’s always ahead of the game. Jim made a bundle by investing in commodities in the 1990s when they were out of favor with Wall Street. He’s also made large profits investing in crisis markets.

Jim and I spoke about timeless strategies that are truly essential to being a successful investor.
You won’t want to miss this fascinating discussion, which you’ll find below.

Nick Giambruno: You’ve said that many times throughout history, conventional wisdom gets shattered. What are some widely held beliefs that will be shattered in the next 10 years?

Jim Rogers: That’s a very good question. Well, for one thing, I know bond markets are at all-time highs almost in every country in the world. Interest rates have never been so low. Everybody is convinced that bonds are a good thing to invest in. Otherwise, they wouldn’t be at all time highs.

I’m sure that 10 years from now, we are all going to look back and say, how could people have even been investing in bonds with negative yields? How could that possibly have been happening? But at the moment, everybody assumes it’s okay, and it’s the normal and natural thing to do. Ten years from now, we’re going to look back and say, gosh, how could we ever have done something so foolish?

So one of the things I do is I look to see - when everybody’s convinced that X is correct - I look to see, well maybe X isn’t correct. So when I find unanimity of a view, I look to see, maybe it’s not right. And it usually isn’t right, by the way. I have learned that from experiences and from lots of reading.

Nick: How does an investor deal with being accurate but early?

Jim: Oh, that’s the story of my life. I’ve always been accurate but early. If I’m convinced something is going to happen or if I should make an investment, I have learned that I should wait for awhile, because maybe it is too early. And it usually is too early.

I try to discipline myself to wait longer or to put in orders below the market and let the market come to me. But even then, sometimes I’m still too early.

Nick: How did studying history help you in investing?

Jim: Well, the main thing it taught me was that everything is always changing. If you go back and look at before the First World War, nobody could ever have conceived in 1910 that Germany and Britain would be slaughtering millions of people four years later. Yet it happened.

No matter what we think today, no matter what it is, it is not going to be true in 15 years. I assure you. You pick any year in history, and look at what everybody was convinced was correct and then look 15 years later, and you’d be shocked and astonished. Look at 1920, 15 years later. Look at 1930, 15 years later.

Any year you want to pick - 1900, 1990, 2000. Pick any year and I assure you, 15 years later everything is going to be different. I guess that’s the first thing I learned from the study of history.

Nick: What mistakes do empires always make?

Jim: They get overextended. They think they’re smarter than everybody else. They think they cannot make mistakes, and even if they are making mistakes they are so powerful they think that they can correct the mistakes. And then they become overextended. Usually they become overextended financially, militarily, geopolitically, in every way.

Nick: Is the US repeating those same mistakes?

Jim: Well, the US is the largest debtor nation in the history of the world now, and the debts are going higher and higher. The people in the US think it doesn’t matter that we’ve got all these debts and there’s no problem. People in the US don’t think that it’s a problem that we’ve got troops in over 100 countries around the world. I mean, when Rome got overextended militarily, it paid the price. Spain and many other countries have had this problem. Maybe it’s not a problem. Maybe America can have troops in 200 countries around the world and it won’t matter, but America has certainly gotten itself overextended in many ways.

Nick: Do you think wealth and power will continue to move East?

Jim: Wealth and power are moving East now, and that is going to continue. That’s because of historic reasons. There’s little doubt in my mind that China is going to be the next great country in the world. Most people are still skeptical of that. Most people know something is happening in China. They don’t really quite understand the full historic significance of what is happening in China including many Chinese.

Jim Rogers and Nick Giambruno

Nick: You mentioned in your most recent book, Street Smarts, about the lesson you learned when Nixon closed the gold window in 1971. At the time you were long Japan and short the US, and you just got killed. Can you tell us the lessons you learned from that experience?

Jim: That was a perfect example of what I’m talking about. Even if you have it right, or you think you have it right, something can always come along and change that, especially with politicians.

Politicians play by different rules from the rest of us. They just change the rules. Mr. Nixon just changed the rules because he was having a serious problem, and he thought America was having a serious problem. And when they changed the rules against all logic or against history, something is going to give. If you are on the wrong side, you are the one who is going to give, and I’ve learned that.

Nick: Any other investing lessons you’d like to mention?

Jim: Well, when you see on the front page of the newspaper that there’s a disaster - natural disaster, economic, any kind of a disaster - just pick up the newspaper and think, now wait a minute, everybody’s panicked right now. The blasting headlines are that the world is coming to an end. Stop and think, is the world really coming to an end? Is this industry going to survive? Is this country going to survive? Is this market going to survive? Because normally it is going to survive.

If you can just first stop and have that thought process, then you can think it through. Let’s say that these headlines are wrong. “What should I do?” You are probably going to be a successful investor. Be prepared for the fact that you are probably going to be early. If you can figure out how to spot the exact bottom and the exact turn, please call me.

Nick: This is exactly what Doug Casey and I do in our Crisis Speculator publication (click here for more details). Shifting gears now, you’ve also said that Harvard and other universities could go bankrupt. Why do you think that?

Jim: Well, first of all, some of the American universities have a very, very high cost structure. It’s astonishing.
Let’s pick on Ivy League. I went to an Ivy League school, so I can pick on them a little bit. They have a high cost structure. They think that what they know is correct and that people will always pay higher and higher prices.

To go to Princeton for four years now is probably going to cost you $300,000 in the end when you figure out the tuition, room and board, books, beer, travel, and everything else. It’s extraordinarily expensive to go to these places. Now what Princeton would tell you - and I didn’t go to Princeton but that’s why I’m picking on them - what Princeton would say is, yeah, but it’s better education. But I’m not sure it’s better education.

I know that many of the things that they teach in Ivy League schools these days are absurd and totally wrong. It’s conventional wisdom run amuck, so it’s not necessarily better what you learn at those places. If you go to the right universities, and you learn the wrong things, it’s going to cost you in the end.

Then they say, yes, but it’s a brand, it’s a label that’s good. Sure, it’s a label, it’s a very expensive label, but it’s going to take a lot more than that to make you successful. Just because your grandmother gives you a Cadillac, which is a good brand, it’s not going to make you successful at finding dates, or having a good job or anything else. You have to produce on your own.

Throughout history you've had many institutions that have been world famous and top of the line. They’ve disappeared. It doesn’t mean Harvard can’t too. I didn’t go to Harvard, so I shouldn’t pick on any of these places that I didn’t go to. So we’ll see. I’m skeptical of all of them.

Nick: Why do universities and governments embrace Keynesian economics? Why do they hate Austrian economics?

Jim: That’s a good question. Keynes himself, at the end, didn’t embrace what is now known as Keynesian economics. Keynes would probably be an Austrian now, because at the end of his life, he came to understand that some of the stuff was being misused.

The main reason people like Keynesian economics is because they think they can be powerful. They can change things. “I’m a smart guy. I went to an Ivy League school, therefore I know what’s best.

And if I say it’s best, let’s do it, and it will make things better.” That’s essentially what Keynesianism is now. The market is a lot smarter than all of us, and I wish we would all learn that. It always has been and it always will be.

Nick: Thanks for your time, Jim.

Jim: My pleasure.

Editor’s Note: Jim Rogers told us about the importance of looking past the news that frightens others away. It’s the key to finding deep value investment opportunities that can make you enormous profits. It’s one of the world’s greatest wealth creation secrets.

It’s been used by Warren Buffett, Doug Casey, John Templeton, Baron Rothschild, and many other successful investors. It’s a strategy that you can use too.

It’s exactly these kinds of opportunities we cover in Crisis Speculator. Click here for more details.
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Thursday, September 17, 2015

The Most Important Geopolitical Trend of the Next Decade…Here’s How to Profit

By Nick Giambruno

The bloodbath was merciless. In 1842, 16,500 British soldiers and civilians withdrew from Kabul, Afghanistan. Only one would survive. It was the most humiliating military disaster in British history. The death toll sealed Afghanistan’s reputation as “the graveyard of empires.”

It was the desire for control of Central Asia that sucked the British Army into its Afghan disaster. For most of the 1800s, the UK and Russia pushed for power and influence in Central Asia in a competition known as “the Great Game.”

It wasn’t just to score points. The thought of losing India terrified the Brits more than anything else. India had huge economic resources, a plentiful supply of military-aged males, and strategic geography. London treasured India as “the jewel in the crown of the British Empire.”

To the Brits, the expansion of the Russian Empire into Central Asia was a threat to their control of India. Neighboring Afghanistan was their red line. If the Russians could draw Afghanistan into their sphere of influence, they would become an intolerable threat to British India.

So, in 1839, the British Army invaded. They installed a puppet regime in Kabul that would stand as a buffer to Russian influence. Every previous attempt to bring Afghanistan under foreign rule had ended badly. The Afghans are some of the toughest and most stubborn fighters in the world. The British knew that executing their plan wouldn’t be a cakewalk.

After a few years of trying and then failing to impose their will, the Brits threw in the towel. Early in 1842, 16,500 British soldiers and civilians packed up and left Kabul. As they fled through the mountainous trails, Afghan tribal fighters attacked repeatedly.

It added up to an epic massacre…..If the Afghan fighters didn’t kill you, disease and winter weather would.

After just seven days, only one man was still alive. William Brydon was bloody, torn, and exhausted. He was the only one to make it to the nearest British military outpost. That outpost was in Jalalabad, 90 miles away from Kabul. The Afghans let him live so there would be someone to tell the grisly story.

The garrison in Jalalabad lit signal fires to guide other British survivors to safety. After several days, they realized no one was left to see the light. Painter Elizabeth Butler captured the pain and desperation of the moment in her Remnants of an Army, below.

The debacle was a brutal lesson in geopolitics: geography constrains the destiny of nations and empires. Ignore that constraint at your peril. Despite their folly in Afghanistan, the British were generally shrewd players in geopolitics. It was a skill developed from a centuries-long career as an imperial power.

The godfather of geopolitical theory was British strategist Sir Halford Mackinder. Mackinder developed a general theory that connected geography with global power. To this day, planners in the US, Russia, and China study his teachings.

Mackinder argued that dominating the Eurasian landmass - Asia and Europe together - was the key to being the leading global power.

Zbigniew Brzezinski, the renowned American geopolitical strategist, echoes Mackinder on the importance of Eurasia in his book The Grand Chessboard: American Primacy and Its Geostrategic Imperatives: Ever since the continents started interacting politically, some five hundred years ago, Eurasia has been the center of world power.

A power that dominates “Eurasia” would control two of the world’s three most advanced and economically productive regions…rendering the Western Hemisphere and Oceania geopolitically peripheral to the world’s central continent. About 75% of the world’s people live in “Eurasia,” and most of the world’s physical wealth is there as well, both in its enterprises and underneath its soil. “Eurasia” accounts for about three-fourths of the world’s known energy resources.

A single power that controls the resources of Eurasia would be an unstoppable global superpower. If one couldn’t control all of Eurasia, the next best thing would be to dominate the world’s oceans. Control of the sea lanes means control of international trade and the flow of strategic commodities.

In 1900, the British Empire was near the peak of its strength. It was the world’s undisputed naval power. Its naval bases ringed Eurasia from the North Atlantic to the Mediterranean, from the Persian Gulf to the Indian Ocean, all the way to Hong Kong. This enabled the Brits to project event shaping military power into Eurasia.

Today, the US is far and away the world’s leading naval power. Like the British before them, the Americans have followed the geopolitical strategy of ringing Eurasia with military bases and exploiting its divisions. The aircraft carrier, with its 5,000-person crew, is the central instrument of US naval power. Putting just one of these enormous vessels into operation costs more than $25 billion.

The US Navy has 11 carriers, more than the rest of the world combined. And it’s not just ahead in quantity. The power and technological sophistication of US aircraft carriers are far beyond the capabilities of any competitor. There is simply no military force now or in the foreseeable future that could dispute US control of the high seas.....Soon, though, it may not matter.

That’s because China, Russia, and others are working on an ambitious plan. They seek to make US dominance of the seas unimportant. They’re tying Eurasia together with a web of land-based transport facilities. A constellation of supporting organizations for financial, political, and security cooperation is also in the works. If they’re successful, they’ll wipe away hundreds of years of geopolitical strategic thinking. They’ll make the current US planning paradigm obsolete. They’ll undermine the strategy that the US - and the UK before it - has relied on to dominate geopolitics. It would be the biggest shift in the global power balance since WWII.

It’s a game for the highest stakes…a real-life battle of Risk. The effort and countereffort to integrate Eurasia is the new Great Game. It’s the most important process to watch for the next 10 years. The central project to integrate Eurasia is the New Silk Road.

The World’s Most Ambitious Infrastructure Project

For over a thousand years, the Silk Road, named for the lucrative trade it carried, was the world’s most important land route. At 4,000 miles long, it passed through a chain of empires and civilizations and connected China to Europe. It was the path along which merchant Marco Polo traveled to the Orient. When he returned, he gave Europeans their first contemporary glimpse of China.

Today, China is planning to revive the Silk Road with modern transit corridors. This includes high speed rail lines, modern highways, fiber-optic cables, energy pipelines, seaports, and airports. They will link the Atlantic shores of Europe with the Pacific shores of Asia. It’s an almost unbelievable goal.

If all goes according to plan, it will be a reality by 2025. A train from Beijing would reach London in only two days.

New Silk Road Routes

The New Silk Road is history’s biggest infrastructure project. It aims to completely redraw the world economic map. And, if completed, it has the potential to be the biggest geopolitical game-changer in hundreds of years.

Tying Eurasia together with land routes frees it from dependence on maritime transport. That ends the importance of controlling the high seas. That reshapes the fundamentals of global power…and it’s exactly what the Chinese and Russians want.

In late 2013, Chinese president Xi Jinping announced the New Silk Road. The Chinese government rules by consensus. They’re careful long-term planners. When they make a strategic decision of this magnitude, you know they are totally committed. They have the political will to pull it off. They also have the financial, technological, and physical resources to do it.

The plan is still in the early stages, but important pieces are already falling into place. On November 18 of last year, a train carrying containerized goods left Yiwu, China. It arrived in Madrid, Spain, 21 days later. It was the first shipment across Eurasia on the Yiwu-Madrid route, which is now the longest train route in the world. It’s one of the first components of the New Silk Road.

As ambitious as the New Silk Road is, it’s just one aspect of the integration of Eurasia. In just the past year, a set of interlocking international organizations has emerged. These new linkages are the institutional support for a new political-economic-financial order in Eurasia.

Here are the most prominent organizations…

Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank (AIIB)
China launched the AIIB in 2014 with financing for New Silk Road projects in mind. Its initial capital base is more than $100 billion.

The AIIB would be a Eurasian alternative to the US-dominated International Monetary Fund (IMF) and World Bank. Those institutions have been standing atop the international financial system. China, Russia, and India are the main shareholders and decision makers at the AIIB.

Nearly 60 countries, mostly in Eurasia, have signed up to join the bank. Japan and the US declined to join. Then, the US government embarrassed itself by trying (and failing) to pressure allies the UK, France, and Germany into snubbing the organization.

BRICS and the New Development Bank (NDB)
The BRICS countries - Brazil, Russia, India, China, and South Africa - are all onboard for Eurasian integration. The NDB, like the AIIB, is an international financial institution headquartered in China (but headed by an Indian banker), with $100 billion in capital. Also like the AIIB, the NDB is an alternative to the IMF and World Bank. The BRICS countries established the NDB in July 2015.

The NDB and AIIB will complement, not compete with, each other in financing the integration of Eurasia. The NDB will also finance infrastructure projects in Africa and South America. The NDB will use members’ national currencies, bypassing the US dollar. It won’t depend on US controlled institutions for anything. That reduces the NDB’s exposure to US pressure. The BRICS countries are also exploring building an alternative to SWIFT, an international payments network.

SWIFT is truly integral to the current international financial system. Without it, it’s nearly impossible to transfer money from a bank in country A to a bank in country B. In 2012, the US was able to kick Iran out of SWIFT. That crippled Iran’s ability to trade internationally. It also demonstrated that SWIFT had become a US political weapon. Neutralizing that kind of power is precisely why the BRICS countries want their own international payments system.

Eurasian Economic Union (EEU)
The EEU is a Russian-led trading bloc. It opened for business in January 2015. The EEU provides free movement of goods, services, money, and people through Russia, Belarus, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, and Armenia. Other countries may join. Trade discussions have started with India, Vietnam, and Iran. The EEU is gradually expanding as countries along the New Silk Road remove barriers to trade. Egypt, Argentina, Brazil, Paraguay, Uruguay, and Venezuela are also in trade talks with the EEU.

Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO)
In the military and security realm, there’s the SCO. Current members include China, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Russia, Tajikistan, and Uzbekistan. India and Pakistan will join by 2016. Iran is also likely to join in the future.

Putting the Pieces Together

Eurasian integration, and the US attempt to block it, will be the most important story for the next 10 years. This is the new Great Game. Oddly, the US media has barely made a peep about it. Maybe the story of Eurasian integration is just too big and complex to fit into sound bites.

The New Silk Road…the Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank…the BRICS New Development Bank…an alternative SWIFT system…the Eurasian Economic Union…the Shanghai Cooperation Organization…these are the building blocks for a new world. There could be huge profits for investors who position themselves correctly ahead of this monumental trend.

There is an easy way for US investors to tap into this trend. Click here to get the latest issue of Crisis Speculator for all the details.
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Monday, September 14, 2015

ENCORE: Here's a Second Chance to Attend John's LIVE Event

If you missed last weeks event with our trading partner John Carter of Simpler Options you get another chance to catch this free webinar LIVE this Tuesday evening September 15th at 8 p.m. est.

Last weeks event was over prescribed so those that logged in late lost their seat to the those on the waiting list. Don't let that happen again. Please reserve your seat asap and make sure you log in 10 minutes early on Tuesday night so you don't lose it.

Sign Up for the "500k Proof and Trading Plan" Webinar

Even if you attended last week you might try to get another spot this week as John has added even more examples of how to put these methods to work right away. John is a special trader for sure, and what really sets him apart is his ability to pass on his skills. He has a "knack" for making his trading methods easy to understand so you can put them to work the following trading day.

Watch the new video John has put together to get ready for this class.....Watch it HERE

John became famous for the "Big Trade" he made on Tesla, ticker TSLA in 2014. And in the process changed the way wall street looks at using options for protection and profit. And this weeks webinar will make it clear, it's not an unattainable thing to trade like John. And he will deliver this Tuesday, that's why we are going and that's why we believe you should as well.

Register for live event and secure recording HERE

See you Tuesday evening,
The Stock Market Club

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