Letters & Reports

These are my periodic letters and special reports for clients and the interested. My general theme are to identify risks and search for opportunities in the biggest trends.

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Embrace Change And Volatility

I am publishing pieces to help investors adapt in an era of rapid change. There are six major secular trends impacting the global economy and markets:

  • aging demographics
  • climate change
  • massive global debt
  • central bank intervention
  • technological advancement
  • geopolitical challenges

By embracing change, we can make volatility our ally. Sustainable investing strategies can be the anchor that builds and protects your financial freedom.

You can also follow me on Seeking Alpha and regular Friday webinars that I post to my YouTube channel.

NASACarbonTimeChart

Freedom to Profit from Change

The “dark” philosopher Heraclitus of Ephesus said that, “the only thing that is constant is change.” In today’s world, change is so constant, and seemingly accelerating, that many people are befuddled because they feel the world is passing them by. This feeling of being passed by, which drives frustration and anger, is nothing new though. Thousands of years ago, people had the same feelings. If change has always caused frustration and anger, has anything really changed?

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Average Stock 2015

2016: A Stealth Bear Market Crashes In

Happy New Year! For me I am glad to see 2015 go. I had a heart injury, a house fire and have been early on several stock picks. Such is life. I survived, nobody got hurt in the fire, I’m back in my house and early doesn’t usually mean wrong if you are patient.

This is very important reading in my opinion, so please get a beverage and hunker down for a half hour. At least one topic I’m going to cover could spawn a book, but I will keep it as short as possible.

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U.S. OPEC Imports

Why I Am Buying Energy Stocks Again

In autumn of 2011, I wrote in MarketWatch’s “Next Great Investment Columnist” competition, that one thing was going to change everything for America. That one thing was the development of our own natural gas and oil reserves. My analysis landed me a spot on MarketWatch.com of the Wall Street Journal network in November of 2011. A few weeks later, Citigroup and Goldman Sachs made public their research that agreed with mine.

U.S. OPEC ImportsBy 2012, banks and investors started flooding the oil and gas market with money for drilling projects. In my annual freedom letter of 2012, I said that America’s oil and gas development was so great that it would ultimately lead to our freedom from OPEC. I repeated that sentiment on MarketWatch but few people in the broader population believed me. Today, American imports of oil and gas from OPEC are at the lowest levels in 28 years and down over 50% from the 2008 imports.

Last summer in an article titled the Peak Oil Plateau I laid out the case for dramatically lower oil prices and why to sell most oil and gas stocks. As it turns out, I understated the case and prices crashed even further than I anticipated as traders were able to pound shares to prices below what is justified due to pessimistic investor psychology lasting well beyond the financial crisis. After about a year now of carnage among oil and gas companies struggling with debt and low energy prices, I believe we are in store for another dramatic shift.

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Dollar

Freedom to Beat Wall Street

One of the things that makes America great is the opportunity. Unfortunately, since the early 1980s, much of that opportunity has been confiscated by the greedy, power hungry, dishonest, lazy and ideologically delusional.

Wall Street, and the financial industry in general, are at the heart of the breakdown of opportunity in America. They aren’t alone of course, there is also a class of crony business executives, legal and accounting skimmers, as well as, power hungry and ego driven politicians who have been leading us down a path of lower living standards for us and (what’s worse) our kids. And yes, there is a group of people in America who are just plain lazy, although, what they’re skimming is actually a much smaller dollar amount than the others mentioned.

As you might have already guessed, this year’s “Freedom” letter isn’t going to be nicest or most diplomatic I’ve written. Today, I am going to share some realities and lessons that I’ve learned over the years. These things can help you do very well for yourself, your family and your community over time. I will be aiming much of what I say to the millennial generation because if they don’t succeed, then America truly is in trouble. Everything I am saying though is applicable to everybody from what I can tell.

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2015 Will Be More Volatile

Before I get started with what to pay attention to in 2015, I would just like to say Happy New Year and take a look back at 2014.

In my January 2014 letter I stated that “While I am not convinced we have any major asset bubbles that are easy to identify, there are massive risks to global economics, some of which that are hidden in plain sight that concern me greatly.” Those risks have only grown over the past year.

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Asset Class Returns vs Average Investor

Dealing With Today’s Volatility

October 16, 2014

 

“I don’t really care about volatility.” Warren Buffett

 

I put off publishing this letter for about two weeks, as over the past month, stock market volatility has increased quite a bit. While we are not seeing the wild swings of 2011, we are seeing a significant reaction to the overdue realization that the enduring slow global growth I have talked about multiple times and the end of quantitative easing by the Federal Reserve are both real. 

Buffett’s quote above is meant to convey a message that emotions should not be a part of our investing process. He goes onto discuss how volatility gives us opportunities to buy great companies at good prices.

With the uptick in volatility, I have not responded by fearfully selling assets. We actually were doing some selling between May and September when volatility was lower and most investors were complacent. Instead of being a seller the past two weeks, I have indeed been a buyer.

Asset Class Returns vs Average Investor

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S&P 500

2014 Another Crossroads

January 2014

2013 proved to be a profitable year for investors. The S&P 500 rose 29% and set new record highs. Global balanced indexes, more representative of most people’s portfolios also did very well returning about 20% despite a tough year in China which lost 9%.

S&P 500

The high return of the stock market had an expected effect on people. Many investors started to chase returns and look to be more aggressive after years of being risk averse. The result was that 2013 saw the most money from retail investors flow into stocks since 2000. I discussed this in a November article on MarketWatch titled “How Bad Will New Investors Get Hit.”   

The problem with this of course is that the stock market has more than doubled since 2009 and the economy has not done nearly as well. In becoming more aggressive now, investors are betting that the economy will improve enough to justify a continued rise in stocks. 

Interestingly, I find very few people who actually believe the economy is improving in a substantial way.

I am among those who believe that economics are not keeping up with stock market returns. One needs only look at the fact that the Federal Reserve has printed far more money than the economy has grown the past few years to understand that growth is largely illusionary.

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