28 December 2017

Stocks and Precious Metals Charts - Lead Kindly Light - A Forecast Connecting the Dots

"Come senators, congressmen
Please heed the call
Don’t stand in the doorway
Don’t block up the hall
For he that gets hurt
Will be he who has stalled
There’s a battle outside and it is ragin’
It’ll soon shake your windows and rattle your walls
For the times they are a-changin’...

As the present now
Will later be past
The order is rapidly fadin’
And the first one now will later be last
For the times they are a-changin’."

Bob Dylan, The Times They Are a-Changin'

"The only constant is change."


Let me start out by saying that in my estimation, about 95% of short term predictions are worthless from an actionable trading standpoint.  In most businesses, short term is less than one year.

That is why so many jokers on Wall Street keep so busy rigging the game, and cutting down their forecasting window to microseconds.  It is the only way that they can provide consistent returns— they cheat.

Oh yea, I know that some guys have cobbled together some remarkable runs in the short term, and then generally flame out at some point.  I had a run at the blackjack tables in Vegas that had the dealers talking.   It seems like everyone gets at least one night like that, they are just flat out golden and can't seem to lose at the turn of the cards.

But any seasoned gambler knows that the odds will always catch up to you.  Always.  That is why the casinos are, at the end of the day, the only ones to make real consistent returns.  One of the best gifts I ever received was a copy of Casino Management by Bill Freedman, which I got from a guy I knew from the old neighborhood who worked in the comptrollers office at Caesar's.

But in general it is the longer term and luckier, well-disciplined value investors who really ring the bell.  That is why so many of the big insiders like to set themselves up to grab the more certain flow of fees than depend on the big wins, which they will also take when they can.

So having said all that, someone from the crowd says, 'Yeah but tell us what is going to happen next.'

Ok.  Let me pick up the thread from the original broad trends forecast that I cranked out a long time ago.

After a long slump, the American people were likely to make a bad choice and pick someone who made a lot of promises, but ended up betraying them all pretty much.  With all due respect to the faithful, let's give that one a check.

By the way, there is nothing particularly remarkable about that.  If you look at the political and economic flows after the crash of 1929, we are fairly well tracing them out if you discount FDR out of the picture, and add in the weighted average of all the bad leaders and demagogues to whom the people resorted.

So next up is likely to be some form of dramatic change.  I am not sure how much of this is going to be so dramatic as to be violent, and what the mix may be of international and domestic, but there is likely to be 'blood on the streets' either literally or figuratively.

You can go back and look at every instance in history where the inequality of wealth and power was as high as it is now, and see violent change rising as the social and political system struggles to cope with the distortion and stress on the social fabric.

The Fall of the Soviet Union was a very dramatic change, and Gorbachev reacted in a way that steered it away from physical violence, more or less.  But there are plenty of other examples that went differently. Any number of times I have referred to the sad end of the Romanovs, the French aristocracy, and the decades of labor violence and wars that followed on the Gilded Age.

Distortions tend to build stresses that will be a force for adjustment, and if resisted too stubbornly, in an adjustment that resembles an earthquake.  Kennedy ironically cited the Soviets some years before the fall in saying that those who thwart peaceful evolution will invite violent revolution.

So in my outlook the bigger variable will be the manner in which those who are in power will react to the growing demand disenchantment with their brave new world.  Will they begin to allow for reforms, or will they resort to the kind of stubborn defense of the status quo that ends up with a delayed but more violent adjustment?

This will be a dominant theme over the next couple of years.  We have seen the early signs of it already, politically, in large part because of the extreme denial of the power elite, caught as they are in a credibility trap.

And then the voice in the crowd may ask, 'And so how can I do well for myself in this trend by trading in the short term?  How can I easily get rich quick?'

You cannot.   Have you not been listening?  It's a gamble. Overseen by cheaters.

But in a type of value investing, we may profit through watchfulness and prayer.  Change is coming, a very big change in trend, and a sort of uncertainty will come with it.   And those waves of change will break upon the hardened hearts of the wealthy and powerful and the worldly god of the market that they have raised, once again.

For because of the increase in wickedness, the love of most will grow cold. But those who stand firm in the faith will be saved.  And the good news that has been given as a witness to the nations.

As Rust Cohle said, picking up the pessimistic Weltanschauung of Nietzsche and Schopenhauer, 'time is a flat circle that keeps repeating.'   Except that is for the faithful, for whom time and the endless failure of sin to rise above itself has been overcome by the eternal.  The people who were lost in darkness have seen a great light.

Pretty grim and heady stuff, huh?  We have been here as a people, the human race, many times before.

If you look at the history of the 20th century, about half of which some of us have personally enjoyed,  the riots and wars and revolutions and fanatical demagogues and dictators and their genocides, it is a wonder that our grandparents and parents did not lose their minds, as well as their hearts and faith, along the way.  It certainly took a toll on a lot of them,  their rendezvous with destiny.  And so now I think may come ours.   And we have not yet seen the darkest hours before the dawn. 

But as I started out earlier, no one really knows what comes next. We can look at the prevailing conditions. There is no doubt a grave mispricing of risk in the system. And the foundations and propositions of the current powers are shaking. You have seen my picture of the 'imperial Presidents.' What were things like after the fall of Nero? An avalanche of change. Vespasian was called back from the siege of Jerusalem to be named emperor, the fourth that year.

I am glad that the queen is home safely.

Have a pleasant evening.