You Always Take The Blue Pill

Let’s get something out of the way.

Yes, this is all an illusion. But why should that matter?

So what that the entire structure of the market right now is fake? That without rigging the system, we would be much lower? Why should I let that get in the way?

The things I’m going to buy with all these gains are going to feel real enough.

I hate to break this to you pal, but life is an illusion. What, you were attached to this nonsense? Birth. Death. It’s all a veil of deception.

And when, long in the distance, this raindrop of a Universe we’re trapped in smacks the pavement and contorts itself into a Gödel Space and wakes the dead, this is all going to look pretty stupid. But for the moment, rather than “Zerohedging” myself into hyper-analyzing micro-variations of white noise in Fed data, I’m going to embrace the illusion.

Because the reality sucks, champ.

A Global Power Shift Is Emerging

Short term cautions not withstanding, we are on the precipice of something great.

The entire structure of the global economy is shifting, slightly and slowly. But like all great change, the most striking of the movement comes all at once, at the end.

The United States is driving this assault of the balances of power, globally, as the energy revolution progresses on our shores. This country is set to become the biggest oil producer in the world – and we are now slowly removing the export restrictions that are the last remaining barrier to this mighty end.

This isn’t just about US trade balances and deficits. Those numbers games matter, but they always matter less than you think.

This game is about power. Oil has been the source of power to our enemies for too long. Russia and the Middle East have fed well on global consumption of this product, erecting their cartels around the flow oil to global industry. It has made them powerful and a threat.

The move by the US to become the world’s largest producer of oil and gas can be viewed through a different lens than financial gain alone: this is also going to completely upend our adversaries. What wars and weapons and diplomacy and cooperation could not possibly have accomplished, given the entrenched interests we faced, this one might push on our part will quickly bring about.

This is a once in a lifetime opportunity. You must get invested in it, and stay invested in it. All US leadership sees the goal, and no one objects to it. The days of getting beat about by monarchies in Saudi Arabia, needing to cut backroom deals that undermine our own morals with foreign militant groups, having to sit through endless meetings while Russian oligarchs threaten our allies with gas supply shortages…these days are coming to an end.

As the US increasingly becomes energy independent, the argument to even have relations with half these villains becomes non sequitur. We can marginalize them while circling around our true allies and real friends.

I can’t see everything that is going to come from this. Naturally US power will follow. And the North and South American continents should improve, swinging towards democracy and capitalism. Outside of that, while I think US energy independence is a good thing, I wouldn’t be surprised if war also follows. Revolutions surely, but also open war between foreign, former energy exporters who find themselves being boxed into a corner. The Saudi’s days are surely numbered, in particular.

My bet is that Russia will not change much, but they will also have to cut less lucrative deals with China to make it. So at least they will be a less powerful, less interfering Russia. Good riddance there.

Suffice to say, this is unpredictability at its best. While I think I see the theme, I do not yet hear the notes. But I’ll take my chances with it anyway. The old order of things was repulsive. I won’t be crying any tears for OPEC, or for Russia.

BAS Is Returning 7% Today Alone

Although my 40% cash position may create the illusion that I am missing out, such a view would be misplaced. Careful allocation and selection on my part is gifting me full participation in today’s excess in spite of recent reservation.

BAS is up 7.29% at the time of this writing, as the natural gas cycle makes full leaps and bounds forward. As I told you it would transpire, this is where your money must be at for the next 10 years. Companies and partnerships like BAS and HCLP will grow at unprecedented rates, facilitating the United States of America back to Her rightful status as Greatest Country and Loan Superpower on planet Earth.

HCLP is also up 2% and taken altogether, my portfolio is up .9%.

As for the excitement about Yellen, I don’t fully understand the sentiment. If you go back and read or listen to anything from Yellen, it’s pretty clear she has been consistently more in favor of Federal Reserve supporting markets and the economy than Bernanke was.

Despite that, there is good reason to believe a deep pullback may come soon enough (first half of 2014). We can’t all be millionaires.

UPDATE If you followed my initial purchase of BAS on 8/16/2012, you are presently up 65% on the position. If you’ve been trading along with me inside The PPT, you are up far more.

Late Night Thoughts

Asia’s markets are settled this evening, in response to Turkey jacking their interest rates to 12% in the dead of night, if such sources as Reuters are to be believed.

Central banks have had such a firm hand on everything for the past few years, it really would not surprise me if we just shrug this off and keep going. But I’m not going to rest my hat on that this time.

Ultimately, jacking interest rates to 12% is really bad for growth. Turkey is an importer, so maybe this helps the rest of the world to up that production a little bit. But my concern has always been that we’d hit the point where the rest of the world couldn’t stand the US’ cheap money policies. I thought we were there with the EU, but they passed the buck somehow.

Where did that buck end up, I wonder?

Monetary Policy Remains Overwhelmingly Accommodative (And Outlook)

The fed decision to test the waters with a taper while I was away did surprise me, somewhat. Yet it did not phase me much and so I elected to remain on vacation, silent on the issue.

I would state now in hindsight that a $5B per month taper (with as much as another $5-10B in the works) would still put the Federal Reserve on path to add another ~$800B to its balance sheet in 2014. This remains colossal and would have the Fed assets outstanding at just under $5 Trillion by 2015.

They may very well have tapered by $5B/month just because they were running out of things to buy…(laughter)

If I were to state things that concern me as potential impediments to the US economy and growth, they would list (1) consumer slowdown from budget impacts (pension, healthcare costs, rents/mortgage, increased retirement contributions, etc), (2) foreign existential shocks (EU breakup, Asian crisis, similar collapse that disrupts foreign trade) – where exactly did the EU government debt go and why is it now suddenly not an issue? Who is buying it (ECB, Fed, banking scheme, inter-government trade imbalances, etc)? And what stops non-payment concerns from popping up again in the future? and (3) the election of a Republican majority

But banking solvency just isn’t on that list right now. Neither is inflation, really, although long term prospects of an uncontrollable outbreak of inflation remains a viable possibility. With credit expansion in this country limited to growth of government balance sheets, deflationary pressure is set to commence…until it doesn’t. In the meantime, another ~$1 Trillion of free money to those closest to the trough will keep a major disruption of financial assets here at home as a low probability outcome. Of course, this bodes ill for the “wealth equality” lot, but they’re too dumb to call the system out on that, so we maintain the course.

Concerns aside, I am optimistic. Recessions don’t last forever, and my concerns are outweighed by hope in outlook. I am very long (no margin) and prepared to reap the rewards of economic growth. It’s been almost six years; the system has been on a hyperactive outlook for problems which greatly reduces the likelihood that a real “Black Swan” manages to crop up. It could still happen of course, but with hundreds of thousands of financial professionals calling bubbles as quickly as problems crop up, and a full time central banking staff armed with an unlimited supply of money attacking them at first sight, how exactly is a crisis supposed to materialize from all of this?

The only room for crisis in the US is rampant commodity/asset appreciation, which remains benign. That or an elsewise major shock to the consumer. Financial assets and liquidity issues are covered.

Now, that being said, historically we haven’t had a period longer than 10 years without a recession since at least 1789 (and probably not since long before that either – I just lack records to verify a more robust claim). I’d say the expectation of a correction since the Great Depression is 5-10 years with occasional 1-3 year shocks intermittently. We’re past the small shocks phase, which would put the expectation at right about where we’re at.

These times are unprecedented and the support the Fed is willing to lend the markets (unlike any time in recorded history) makes me think we blow through the averages. I want to say this ship will have the wind to sail to years seven, eight or nine, uninterrupted. We may even match the record holder of 10 or above.

However, it would be foolhardy to doubt another recession will most likely crop up before 2020. The ever growing levels of margin debt to buy equities may well be the first sign of the beginning of the final run before that. Of course it could be nothing.

My belief then is that a long commitment remains the way to go. I have been positively surprised by recent developments that have overridden prior comments on wanting to have a larger cash position by about this time (end of 2013) that I made late last year. However, as gains are taken, a portion should begun to be set aside, starting sometime mid 2014 to early 2015. This should create a reserve build-up of steadily marching intervals (10-20%, with a 1-2% increase every month topping out at around 40-50% of ones account value) sometime around late 2015 to early 2016.

At such time, a second hard look should be had. Earlier and exceptional strength should trigger a reassessment of these statements. Casual to quality growth does not necessarily change them. A major weakness (such as a shock of a GOP majority and fear of monetary policy interference) of course may necessitate a sudden course change.

My most hated places to invest are land/real estate (excluding multifamily or renting derived), oil companies (excluding natural gas predominated), and retail (excluding facilitation to the ultra-rich).

My favorite places center around natural gas production expansion, uranium, coal, multifamily REITs, and I remain interested in holding physical precious metals in a full position in the event an inflation shock from significant expansion in credit hits the economy.

I’m indifferent to the insurance market – especially health insurance. It could swing either way; they crawled into bed with the devil so it’s all political at this point. On the one hand, the entire market is shifting in wild and unpredictable ways. On the other, the feds are rigging the game in the insurance companies favor. Just stay away.

Sure Let’s Default. I’m All In

Alright, it seems like the benevolent Tea Part folk have decided to share their complete inability to grasp simple concepts with the world, by forced contrition on the populace. It is time to eat our peas. Following the line of Obama’s hatred for those damn jet plane flying 1%-ers, the Tea Party have chosen to one up him, by destroying the 1% in its entirety. An unfortunate and slight side effect may be to destroy the other 99% of the country in the process, but hey…sometimes sacrifices must be born for the good of everyone. So making moves for the ill of everyone is the only logical course of action.

In an attempt to honor Argentina’s dim witted socialist president Fernández de Kirchner for her blood clot, the Tea Party have magnanimously extended a show of us revisiting that countries darkest moment, a point from which it has never recovered: elective default.

Remember that one time the global economy nearly collapsed because a single line of business for US banks bet large sums of money that non-creditworthy citizens would default at abnormally low rates in exchange for paper thin margins on those loans?

Well the entire global economy and all of finance has bet gargantuan sums of money that this non-creditworthy country will never default for no fucking margins.

By all means, how do you think this ends?

Frankly, I don’t care anymore, and am all in. Lay your neck under the axe, and taunt these pussies with all your hatred. See if they have the sack to swing.

What’s the alternative? You can turn all short doubling your money with the end of civilization, just in time to burn it to stay warm? You can barter that paper desperately for some precious metals that aren’t for sale? You can get shot by rioters and have it taken off your corpse?

Because if we actually default, it’ll be to late to go out and prepare. Just think of all the mechanisms that are tied to treasuries. There will be bank failures. And a slow, agonizing process as US spending on interest careens towards $1 trillion annually.

In the meantime, staying in our means would require we basically slash in half one of the following:

The entire defense budget OR
The entire non-defense budget

The point of the matter is that if we default, this place is going to get so screwed up anyway, what does it matter? At some point if the decision were not reversed, the man you know as Cain Hammond Thaler would simply cease to exist. His 9th floor office would be deserted; the only clue that he was ever there at all being an empty safe that used to house his silver and firearms and row upon row of cleaned out bookshelves.

I would simply take up my favorite pocket watch and walking stick, and slip away into the night…never to be heard from again.

You Always Take The Blue Pill

Let’s get something out of the way.

Yes, this is all an illusion. But why should that matter?

So what that the entire structure of the market right now is fake? That without rigging the system, we would be much lower? Why should I let that get in the way?

The things I’m going to buy with all these gains are going to feel real enough.

I hate to break this to you pal, but life is an illusion. What, you were attached to this nonsense? Birth. Death. It’s all a veil of deception.

And when, long in the distance, this raindrop of a Universe we’re trapped in smacks the pavement and contorts itself into a Gödel Space and wakes the dead, this is all going to look pretty stupid. But for the moment, rather than “Zerohedging” myself into hyper-analyzing micro-variations of white noise in Fed data, I’m going to embrace the illusion.

Because the reality sucks, champ.

A Global Power Shift Is Emerging

Short term cautions not withstanding, we are on the precipice of something great.

The entire structure of the global economy is shifting, slightly and slowly. But like all great change, the most striking of the movement comes all at once, at the end.

The United States is driving this assault of the balances of power, globally, as the energy revolution progresses on our shores. This country is set to become the biggest oil producer in the world – and we are now slowly removing the export restrictions that are the last remaining barrier to this mighty end.

This isn’t just about US trade balances and deficits. Those numbers games matter, but they always matter less than you think.

This game is about power. Oil has been the source of power to our enemies for too long. Russia and the Middle East have fed well on global consumption of this product, erecting their cartels around the flow oil to global industry. It has made them powerful and a threat.

The move by the US to become the world’s largest producer of oil and gas can be viewed through a different lens than financial gain alone: this is also going to completely upend our adversaries. What wars and weapons and diplomacy and cooperation could not possibly have accomplished, given the entrenched interests we faced, this one might push on our part will quickly bring about.

This is a once in a lifetime opportunity. You must get invested in it, and stay invested in it. All US leadership sees the goal, and no one objects to it. The days of getting beat about by monarchies in Saudi Arabia, needing to cut backroom deals that undermine our own morals with foreign militant groups, having to sit through endless meetings while Russian oligarchs threaten our allies with gas supply shortages…these days are coming to an end.

As the US increasingly becomes energy independent, the argument to even have relations with half these villains becomes non sequitur. We can marginalize them while circling around our true allies and real friends.

I can’t see everything that is going to come from this. Naturally US power will follow. And the North and South American continents should improve, swinging towards democracy and capitalism. Outside of that, while I think US energy independence is a good thing, I wouldn’t be surprised if war also follows. Revolutions surely, but also open war between foreign, former energy exporters who find themselves being boxed into a corner. The Saudi’s days are surely numbered, in particular.

My bet is that Russia will not change much, but they will also have to cut less lucrative deals with China to make it. So at least they will be a less powerful, less interfering Russia. Good riddance there.

Suffice to say, this is unpredictability at its best. While I think I see the theme, I do not yet hear the notes. But I’ll take my chances with it anyway. The old order of things was repulsive. I won’t be crying any tears for OPEC, or for Russia.

BAS Is Returning 7% Today Alone

Although my 40% cash position may create the illusion that I am missing out, such a view would be misplaced. Careful allocation and selection on my part is gifting me full participation in today’s excess in spite of recent reservation.

BAS is up 7.29% at the time of this writing, as the natural gas cycle makes full leaps and bounds forward. As I told you it would transpire, this is where your money must be at for the next 10 years. Companies and partnerships like BAS and HCLP will grow at unprecedented rates, facilitating the United States of America back to Her rightful status as Greatest Country and Loan Superpower on planet Earth.

HCLP is also up 2% and taken altogether, my portfolio is up .9%.

As for the excitement about Yellen, I don’t fully understand the sentiment. If you go back and read or listen to anything from Yellen, it’s pretty clear she has been consistently more in favor of Federal Reserve supporting markets and the economy than Bernanke was.

Despite that, there is good reason to believe a deep pullback may come soon enough (first half of 2014). We can’t all be millionaires.

UPDATE If you followed my initial purchase of BAS on 8/16/2012, you are presently up 65% on the position. If you’ve been trading along with me inside The PPT, you are up far more.

Late Night Thoughts

Asia’s markets are settled this evening, in response to Turkey jacking their interest rates to 12% in the dead of night, if such sources as Reuters are to be believed.

Central banks have had such a firm hand on everything for the past few years, it really would not surprise me if we just shrug this off and keep going. But I’m not going to rest my hat on that this time.

Ultimately, jacking interest rates to 12% is really bad for growth. Turkey is an importer, so maybe this helps the rest of the world to up that production a little bit. But my concern has always been that we’d hit the point where the rest of the world couldn’t stand the US’ cheap money policies. I thought we were there with the EU, but they passed the buck somehow.

Where did that buck end up, I wonder?

Monetary Policy Remains Overwhelmingly Accommodative (And Outlook)

The fed decision to test the waters with a taper while I was away did surprise me, somewhat. Yet it did not phase me much and so I elected to remain on vacation, silent on the issue.

I would state now in hindsight that a $5B per month taper (with as much as another $5-10B in the works) would still put the Federal Reserve on path to add another ~$800B to its balance sheet in 2014. This remains colossal and would have the Fed assets outstanding at just under $5 Trillion by 2015.

They may very well have tapered by $5B/month just because they were running out of things to buy…(laughter)

If I were to state things that concern me as potential impediments to the US economy and growth, they would list (1) consumer slowdown from budget impacts (pension, healthcare costs, rents/mortgage, increased retirement contributions, etc), (2) foreign existential shocks (EU breakup, Asian crisis, similar collapse that disrupts foreign trade) – where exactly did the EU government debt go and why is it now suddenly not an issue? Who is buying it (ECB, Fed, banking scheme, inter-government trade imbalances, etc)? And what stops non-payment concerns from popping up again in the future? and (3) the election of a Republican majority

But banking solvency just isn’t on that list right now. Neither is inflation, really, although long term prospects of an uncontrollable outbreak of inflation remains a viable possibility. With credit expansion in this country limited to growth of government balance sheets, deflationary pressure is set to commence…until it doesn’t. In the meantime, another ~$1 Trillion of free money to those closest to the trough will keep a major disruption of financial assets here at home as a low probability outcome. Of course, this bodes ill for the “wealth equality” lot, but they’re too dumb to call the system out on that, so we maintain the course.

Concerns aside, I am optimistic. Recessions don’t last forever, and my concerns are outweighed by hope in outlook. I am very long (no margin) and prepared to reap the rewards of economic growth. It’s been almost six years; the system has been on a hyperactive outlook for problems which greatly reduces the likelihood that a real “Black Swan” manages to crop up. It could still happen of course, but with hundreds of thousands of financial professionals calling bubbles as quickly as problems crop up, and a full time central banking staff armed with an unlimited supply of money attacking them at first sight, how exactly is a crisis supposed to materialize from all of this?

The only room for crisis in the US is rampant commodity/asset appreciation, which remains benign. That or an elsewise major shock to the consumer. Financial assets and liquidity issues are covered.

Now, that being said, historically we haven’t had a period longer than 10 years without a recession since at least 1789 (and probably not since long before that either – I just lack records to verify a more robust claim). I’d say the expectation of a correction since the Great Depression is 5-10 years with occasional 1-3 year shocks intermittently. We’re past the small shocks phase, which would put the expectation at right about where we’re at.

These times are unprecedented and the support the Fed is willing to lend the markets (unlike any time in recorded history) makes me think we blow through the averages. I want to say this ship will have the wind to sail to years seven, eight or nine, uninterrupted. We may even match the record holder of 10 or above.

However, it would be foolhardy to doubt another recession will most likely crop up before 2020. The ever growing levels of margin debt to buy equities may well be the first sign of the beginning of the final run before that. Of course it could be nothing.

My belief then is that a long commitment remains the way to go. I have been positively surprised by recent developments that have overridden prior comments on wanting to have a larger cash position by about this time (end of 2013) that I made late last year. However, as gains are taken, a portion should begun to be set aside, starting sometime mid 2014 to early 2015. This should create a reserve build-up of steadily marching intervals (10-20%, with a 1-2% increase every month topping out at around 40-50% of ones account value) sometime around late 2015 to early 2016.

At such time, a second hard look should be had. Earlier and exceptional strength should trigger a reassessment of these statements. Casual to quality growth does not necessarily change them. A major weakness (such as a shock of a GOP majority and fear of monetary policy interference) of course may necessitate a sudden course change.

My most hated places to invest are land/real estate (excluding multifamily or renting derived), oil companies (excluding natural gas predominated), and retail (excluding facilitation to the ultra-rich).

My favorite places center around natural gas production expansion, uranium, coal, multifamily REITs, and I remain interested in holding physical precious metals in a full position in the event an inflation shock from significant expansion in credit hits the economy.

I’m indifferent to the insurance market – especially health insurance. It could swing either way; they crawled into bed with the devil so it’s all political at this point. On the one hand, the entire market is shifting in wild and unpredictable ways. On the other, the feds are rigging the game in the insurance companies favor. Just stay away.

Sure Let’s Default. I’m All In

Alright, it seems like the benevolent Tea Part folk have decided to share their complete inability to grasp simple concepts with the world, by forced contrition on the populace. It is time to eat our peas. Following the line of Obama’s hatred for those damn jet plane flying 1%-ers, the Tea Party have chosen to one up him, by destroying the 1% in its entirety. An unfortunate and slight side effect may be to destroy the other 99% of the country in the process, but hey…sometimes sacrifices must be born for the good of everyone. So making moves for the ill of everyone is the only logical course of action.

In an attempt to honor Argentina’s dim witted socialist president Fernández de Kirchner for her blood clot, the Tea Party have magnanimously extended a show of us revisiting that countries darkest moment, a point from which it has never recovered: elective default.

Remember that one time the global economy nearly collapsed because a single line of business for US banks bet large sums of money that non-creditworthy citizens would default at abnormally low rates in exchange for paper thin margins on those loans?

Well the entire global economy and all of finance has bet gargantuan sums of money that this non-creditworthy country will never default for no fucking margins.

By all means, how do you think this ends?

Frankly, I don’t care anymore, and am all in. Lay your neck under the axe, and taunt these pussies with all your hatred. See if they have the sack to swing.

What’s the alternative? You can turn all short doubling your money with the end of civilization, just in time to burn it to stay warm? You can barter that paper desperately for some precious metals that aren’t for sale? You can get shot by rioters and have it taken off your corpse?

Because if we actually default, it’ll be to late to go out and prepare. Just think of all the mechanisms that are tied to treasuries. There will be bank failures. And a slow, agonizing process as US spending on interest careens towards $1 trillion annually.

In the meantime, staying in our means would require we basically slash in half one of the following:

The entire defense budget OR
The entire non-defense budget

The point of the matter is that if we default, this place is going to get so screwed up anyway, what does it matter? At some point if the decision were not reversed, the man you know as Cain Hammond Thaler would simply cease to exist. His 9th floor office would be deserted; the only clue that he was ever there at all being an empty safe that used to house his silver and firearms and row upon row of cleaned out bookshelves.

I would simply take up my favorite pocket watch and walking stick, and slip away into the night…never to be heard from again.

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