Monday, April 22, 2013

Relative Price Inflation; Getting Off the Investment Grid; Permanent Backwardation in Gold

Since today's trading was nothing but another typical "buy the dip" on low volume type of affair, after Caterpillar (CAT) posted truly ugly first quarter results and existing home sales were likewise horrible, today's post contains some random thought and ideas about the state of the economy and a link to an article by Professor Antal Fekete, one of the few honest economists in the world.

I'll take IBM for 200, Alex... er, make that 175.

I've always been skeptical of yields on dividend stocks, because, in a market-clearing event like 2001 or 2008, these stocks all lose on a per share basis. Yes, your yield rises, but at the expense of share price. At best, you break even; at worst, you lose and the dividend gets cut, a la 2008.

I don't believe the RE market is actually improving. Where I live (upstate NY), RE prices were not greatly affected by the bubble bursting, but now they're headed south, with lots of Fannie Mae foreclosures showing up after the courts were clogged with them for years (still are).

Cash, silver, land still appear as safe havens, though the recent decline in paper silver has had the opposite effect on physical. Current premiums are now ranging from 25-35%, making the actual price for physical silver closer to $30 per ounce then the post $22 and change.

Land is still a little pricey, especially if it's good farm land, but I'll still take wooded acres because you can cut and use the wood for all kinds of useful things, like buildings, fences, and heat (burns good), and once cleared, viola, farm land. I'm thinking more in terms of small organic garden plots rather than macro-farming, enough to feed a few families. Doesn't take much. The average back yard will feed three-to four families of four.

Cash is your best defense despite the scourge of inflation. If deflation occurs, cash is king, and with a huge crown. That's when you can buy assets on the cheap, which is investing 101 - buy low, sell high - ya know.

I'm still a deflationista, because I look around a lot. You can buy tomatoes at $2.49 a pound at the popular Wegmans' grocery stores, or hit the same thing for $1.59 at Price Rite or even Wally World. Don't get me started on limes, a must for my favorite Bloody Mary, at 3 for $2 at Wegmans, but 4 for a buck at Price Rite.

The Price Rite's and Aldi's are in poor 'hoods, so the sucker middle class gets raped at the "safe" stores. The dimwits in the inner cities, though, are buying mostly Cheetos and crap rather than good food with the SNAP cards, so, they'd just die off, albeit at lower prices.

My point is, get off the investment grid. Buy local (farmers markets are awesome), horde cash, and, when and if the silver mania subsides, more shiney.

A True Small Business Success Story

Start a business. Anything. Get paid in cash, if possible. Don't become another debt slave with a shitty job.
Here's my 100% true story: I think it was about 1992. I was broke, living with my brother and he wanted rent. I had $12 in pennies, my car, a little gas and a computer and printer. I took those pennies, rolled them up, took them to the bank, got $12, bought $12 worth of stuff at the dollar store - mostly cleaning supplies - printed up some cards that said "Happy House" and took my goods door-to-door in my neighborhood (in the city, a little distance from the dollar store). I sold what I had in about an hour, went back to the dollar store twice that day to re-supply and again hit the streets.
In one day - ONE DAY! - I had $45, more merchandise and people calling me with orders and questions. My biggest seller were sponges. I was able to get a big bag of them for $1, broke them up and sold them for $50 each. People would buy six or eight at a time. Also, Old Dutch Cleanser (like Comet), which I got 2 for a buck and turned around at $1 each.
In a week, I netted over $400, and then got a huge order from a guy who ran a cleaning business for about $250. I did all this in three residential blocks, barely tapping the market.
I did this for about a month, paid all my bills and took a job with a friend as a painter, which paid extremely well, and still kept getting orders over the phone. I didn't pursue the business further, but, looking back, figure I could have made serious money had I kept at it.
So, my advice, find a service which you can handle, print up some cards or use the internet. There are opportunities everywhere for self-starters. Avoid self-pity and self-defeating attitudes and people who are negative. You have worth and if you allow yourself to overcome your fear of failure, you will succeed.
(Just a side note: When I started my "Happy House" business, I was worried that people would see that I was just buying stuff at the dollar store and turning it over. Never happened. Years later, I realized that I was providing a service: bringing those cheap goods to their doors, and that was the "value added" aspect. Add value to an existing product or service and you can't miss. I know a guy who goes to the farmer's market every morning, brings home vegetables and sells them from his front yard. His day is done by 1:00 in the afternoon, and he plays a lot of golf in good weather. There are success stories everywhere - many on ebay - of people pulling themselves out of bad situations. You are no different.)

Professor Fekete on permanent gold backwardation:

Dow 14,567.17, +19.66 (0.14%)
NASDAQ 3,233.55, +27.49 (0.86%)
S&P 500 1,562.50, +7.25 (0.47%)
NYSE Composite 9,019.90, +25.78 (0.29%)
NASDAQ Volume 1,626,128,625
NYSE Volume 3,288,661,500
Combined NYSE & NASDAQ Advance - Decline: 3644-2759
Combined NYSE & NASDAQ New highs - New lows: 225-85
WTI crude oil: 88.76, +0.75
Gold: 1,421.20, +25.60
Silver: 23.32, +0.364

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