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Dave Collum’s 2023 Year in Review: Down Some Dark Rabbit Holes

The most anticipated content of the year is Dave Collum’s Year In review. It’s finally here! Fully referenced and completely irreverent, your family will wonder why you are belly-laughing on the sofa during the holidays.

user profile picture David Collum Dec 22, 2023
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Peak Prosperity Publishing Note:  We are publishing the full 2023 Year In Review in two parts (to help web browsers with the quantity of content).   For those who just can’t wait and need to read the whole thing right away… Dig in!  We will also be republishing a subsection each day (of the exact same content) in bite-sized chunks over the next 7 days.  Those subsections will each have their own comment section to facilitate conversations focused on that particular content.  Given the length and wide-ranging content within Dave’s YIR, we think comments on a per-section basis will be much more manageable, but proceed as you wish.  Part 2 can be found HERE.   The PDF download is available HERE.


   The man who does not read has no advantage over the man who cannot read.

~ Mark Twain

This is my 14th Year in Review, and they are getting very hard to write. I am grateful to Peak Prosperity for providing this opportunity to hang myself. They began as a summary of my investments and a few comments about what I was pondering for some friends at the Prudent Bear chat board and have morphed into a beast that has tipped the scales at over 300 pages on a big year. I think the most epic was 2021 in which I wrote about rising authoritarianism.1 I had a goal—a plot rattling in my head—that had to be finished. Last year had three parts in which the final section on Covid and the lockdowns was roughed out but never uploaded. I am not sure whether I was Covid-saturated or I perceived that the world had had enough, but I just buried it in a shallow grave with other victims of Fauci. This year is at risk of the same thing happening.

For those with the appetite for industrial strength snark, Dave Collum’s review of the year offers magisterial and cynical analysis of a year most of us would probably rather forget.2

~ Price Value Partners

A psychologist once suggested that I fly at 35,000 feet, spot something, drop down to check on it, and then return to full elevation. That’s not a terrible description. I am motivated to write guided by two beliefs: (1) I could figure out what was happening in the world, and (2) chronicling the human folly would somehow influence the outcome. I now believe neither to be true. The Truman Show is throwing too many plot twists that are so monumental that a sense of futility is taking over. I was told not to dwell on what I cannot control, which is now everything. The plot seems like a season of Yellowstone with the vague distinctions between good and evil, highly flawed players, and functional equivalents of The Train Station. (For those unfamiliar with Yellowstone’s plot, that is where they dump the corpses.)

Great people talk about ideas, average people talk about themselves, and small people talk about others.

~ John C. Maxwell.

Diverse people talk about all three! In any event, these allusions to Hollywood are not by chance. I have a growing sense that Hollywood is profoundly corrupt—I am not just talking drugs and sex—and is charged with “fictionalizing reality.” Got a problem with elite pedophilia and Satanic cults? I believe we do. Hollywood created Eyes Wide Shut starring Tom Cruise. The CIA was too dark and sinister, so Hollywood fictionalized it with The Good Shepherd starring Matt Damon. Assassins-in-training in the CIA’s MKUltra program getting into mischief? Call Matt off the bench again to play Jason Bourne. By anchoring public perception on fictional plots, Hollywood disarms reality. Hey: it’s just a movie, right?

We now live in a nation where doctors destroy health, lawyers destroy justice, universities destroy knowledge, governments destroy freedom, the press destroys information, religion destroys morals, and our banks destroy our economy.

~ Chris Hedges

What keeps me writing? Narcissism. I love the hugs. Catherine Austin Fitts put my entire writeup on the coming pension crisis in her Solari Reports noting, “I loved reading your year-end War and Peace.” Larry Summers told me “you have no filter.” My first Covid writeup in 2020 was said to be in the hands of Steve Scalise’s staff for uploading to the Congressional record. (I have no idea if it made it.) As outlined below, I have wonderful chats with brilliant people on the podcast circuit.

There are the Joe Sixpacks who have no voice and reach out in comments sections or by emails thanking me for voicing their concerns. So many people just want a voice. Tweeters with 20 followers are thrilled when they get a response because somebody heard them. These are the guys who listened to Oliver Anthony’s Richmen North of Richmond and were brought to tears.3 The media tried to tell us Oliver wrote an anthem for angry white guys, but montages of black guys rockin’ to his lyrics proliferated on social media. When Elon Musk publicly told Disney’s Bob Iger to “Go fuck yourself” for trying to blackmail him by pulling ad revenues, that was the fuckoff heard ‘round the world. I don’t know if Elon is a good person—probably not—but he is playing one on the internet, and he is very special in his own way.

Musk: If somebody is going to blackmail me with advertising—blackmail me with money? Go fuck yourself.

Andrew Ross Sorkin: But…

Musk: Go…fuck…yourself. Is that clear? I hope it is. Hi Bob! [referring to Disney CEO Bob Iger]

Sorkin: Blah, blah, blah: what do you do?

Musk: F…Y.4

That isn’t writing at all, it’s typing.

~ Truman Capote

Good writing on important subjects does not go out of date. If something is not important a month or even a year later, it was not important the day it was written. I try to touch third rails. If a 68-year-old tenured professor can’t speak up, then who can? It gets me in trouble occasionally. I got canceled pretty seriously in 2020, sleeping with a shotgun fully committed to taking at least one of those death-threatening neo-Stalinist Antifa curb stompers to the light with me if they had showed up at my house. Regular readers certainly have detected elevated anger as I witness the world’s events unfold in ways that were unimaginable a few years back. I have no intention of pussy footing around my foes. I would love to see that mass-murdering Tony Fauci fed to the spirit cookers.

You’ll get a fair trial followed by a first-class hanging.

~ Judge Roy Bean

Once a government is committed to the principle of silencing the voice of opposition, it has only one way to go, and that is down the path of increasingly repressive measures, until it becomes a source of terror to all its citizens and creates a country where everyone lives in fear.

~ Harry S. Truman

If you came out of the Covid pandemic and not figured out that the entire narrative was an exercise in authoritarianism and possibly a largely peaceful depopulation, I think you are pretty lame. If, however, you grasp the Covid story, you probably have also figured out that the CIA whacked Kennedy, 911 was an inside job, and every war in at least a century was started with one or more false flag events. If so, Pat yourself on the back for grasping many big issues. Robbie Parker understands…

Maybe the Covid scam and all the associated lies proffered by credentialed experts have you wondering if the credentialed climate experts are lying too. Climate change, in my opinion, is the biggest scam in history. If, by contrast, you are supergluing yourself to roads during rush hour and throwing tomato soup onto masterpieces to save humanity, you suffer Munchausen by progressive and are a member of the biggest cult in history.5 Please—I beg you—when Reverend Jones gives you the nod, drink. (I have returned to climate change again this year, just to top off previous thoughts with some fresh ones and to piss of The Cult.)

If there must be madness, something may be said for having it on a heroic scale.

~ John Kenneth Galbraith

If you support biological males competing in women’s sports, you must have gotten picked last for kickball, and you certainly don’t support women’s sports. If you oppose erasing the gender line in sports but don’t speak up, shame on you. It is called ‘pluralistic ignorance’ when members of a group privately disagree with what is considered to be the prevailing attitudes, creating a false consensus. The problem festers when those who know better refuse to speak up.

I will take the Women’s Sports Complex to task in Part II. And if you know that a million children are disappearing each year—you should know this because those are mainstream-accepted numbers—but have not taken the time to ask who is receiving these children, be patient. I intend to take you down that darkest rabbit hole in Part II. The guilty consumers of these children are not dirtballs hiding in trailer parks ring-fenced from elementary schools but rather dirtballs residing in C-suites, mansions in Hollywood, and the political Halls of Power. They should be rounded up, tried, and executed regardless of which country, corporation, or Congressional district they oversee.

Conspiracy theory is used against anyone who asks questions the government does not want to answer.

~ Tucker Carlson

By now you’ve figured out I am a conspiracy theorist. I believe men and women of wealth and power conspire every day, and you likely gravitated to this review knowing that. I implore you to stop using the term “conspiracy theory” and “conspiracy theorist” pejoratively. When somebody comes at me with that, I wear that badge with honor, but not before I rip their faces off for trying to censor my uncomfortable speech. We know they lie to us all the time; we are simply trying to put the puzzle pieces together.

Few people are capable of expressing with equanimity opinions which differ from the prejudices of their social environment. Most people are even incapable of forming such opinions.

~ Einstein

My views of finance and geopolitics have been profoundly influenced by my career in chemistry in which I have published over 160 papers, which is a solid count. Almost every one of these papers, however, chronicled how elite scientists who were trying to get it right managed to bone it, sometimes quite badly. I developed the rare skill of being able to confront credentialed experts and say with a firm voice, “I think you are full of shit.” I can entertain any idea that does not break the laws of physics, although endorsing it is another matter. I try to pry my Overton Window wide open to observe what I previously could not fathom. I then write to clear my thoughts and, hopefully, to pry your window open a little bit too.

Now that I have shaken off the pathological losers, let’s get down to business. Here I am again with my little pic and shovel trying to clean up a mudslide. I follow several guidelines when writing. I try not to dwell on things I can’t control and avoid topics that I can’t offer a fresh perspective. Last year I wrote about Ukraine by rounding up about 40 voices that I believed were sincerely trying to find the truth, and then compiled these disparate voices into a single narrative.6 I believe that writeup was some of my best work. Many may disagree because I pointed an accusing finger squarely at NATO, not Putin. I return to the topic this year to clean up some loose ends, fully convinced that the US war machine is hell-bent on mass murder of Ukrainians. Call me a liberal—a commie dog if you wish—but I am a former Goldwater conservative and Reagan Republican who is appalled by how profoundly the US has lost its way in the world.

Our lives have become wall-to-wall uncertainty…The main institutions of our society have abdicated their role for public-spirited adjudication of what is true based on expertise. What you are having—what you are seeing—is people coming to hate experts and coming to hate institutions because they are realizing that these institutions lie to people that they never considered unless they were Alex Jones fans to begin with. You are seeing a complete destruction of reality unless they were physically there…Nobody has an answer.7

~ Eric Weinstein (@EricRWeinstein)

Part of my obvious dismay stems from the growing conviction that the world is hurdling toward global authoritarianism, the core of my 2021 YIR. It’s not just that Nazi Klaus and his you-will-eat-bugs hooey. Every time you let a computer decide for you—every time you push your credit card in the slot or go through TSA security—a computer is deciding your fate. It’s binary: yes or no. No human stands willing or capable of overriding the decision. We are already being ruled by algorithms, and our future is offering up authoritarian CBDCs, digital IDs, facial recognition software, and carbon budgets, all enabled with AI. It is a march toward digital authoritarianism.

No, this guy on Twitter is hysterical. He isn’t in finance but knows a ton. He is a professor at Cornell. You gotta follow him.

~ Overheard by a friend at a Philadelphia sporting event.

Sources and Social Media. Source material is critical. Firstly, nearly all mainstream media is worthless. The serious players have moved to Substack, a platform I may land on at some point in retirement. The censoring is so bad that if you are not ready to hit odd places like Rumble armed with a serious filter, I don’t think you have a chance of lifting the skirt of geopolitics. Censoring is now a multi-billion dollar industry with conferences and trade shows.8

Fact-checkers are useful as a contra-indicator: a large number of fact-checkers tell’s you the lie is a whopper. Wikipedia’s fine for basic facts but as soon as there is a whiff of politics involved, the CIA and FBI are all over it. That is straight from the founder of Wikipedia, Larry Sanger. Given that the three-letter agencies have budgets in the trillions for their dark-ops shit, is there any doubt that they completely control (or at least sanction) the narrative? Throw on heaps of censorship, and we have no chance of getting the straight scoop without archeological levels of digging. I am a huge fan of ZeroHedge. Of course, they get stuff wrong, but they are often first on the scene of the drive-by shootings by the Deep State.

When I see this stuff I think, you’re just a fucking idiot.

~ @KeithMcCullough

So I have given up treading softly. I avoid asterisks to protect the faction of p*ssies who think pussies is an abomination. I’ve also lost patience with the Sharia of the political left taking over the entire system. On occasions where I suggest somebody should get more boosts, this is not out of concern for their well-being.

Topics Untouched. There are topics I will not touch for a host of reasons having to do with lack of interest, vast crowds already crowing about them excessively in the Propaganda-Industrial Complex, or hopes for a fatter pitch. I am not going to write about the Biden administration this year (at least not directly): their capacity to deliver profound content has overwhelmed me, and every pundit on the planet is already writing about those sock starchers. What I will say is that the Biden administration’s weaponization of the Department of Justice and its shredding of the Constitution is the most treasonous chapter of American History. The whole lot—cabinet members, staffers, Garland, prosecutors, and the Big Guy himself—should be rounded up, tried, and, if convicted, hurled into the cells currently occupied by J6 political prisoners.

An evil enemy will burn his own nation to the ground to rule over the ashes.

~ Sun Tzu

The RNC is pathetic, but the DNC appears Hell-bent on destroying the Nation; it looks premeditated. By stating that, don’t I risk losing half my audience? No. You’re it. If you haven’t already figured out that Joe is a child molesting, compulsive lying, womanizing rapist with late-stage dementia who sold us out to the Ukrainians and Chinese, I can’t help you. The evidence is out there for the curious. You must at least be wondering why the DNC shows no obligation to serve up a credible candidate for the Nation’s highest office. I am sure many will not agree with these views. Hold those lovely thoughts of yours.

The trouble with Dave is he tends to sit on the fence.9

Feargus OConnor-Greenwood, author of 180 Degrees: Unlearn The Lies You’ve Been Taught To Believe

This may shock some, but I currently have little to say about Trump. I nervously voted for him in 2016 and wrote what I thought was a good analysis of the 2016 election and the implications of the sea change in the country.10 The 2020 election was less interesting to me, although I firmly believe the election was both slanted—biased by powerful forces trying to keep Trump out of the Whitehouse—as well as rigged by total fraud at the ballot boxes. Besides the evidence, I am confident that there was nothing both parties wouldn’t do to keep him out of power. I was agnostic about a rerun until I watched them—them as in both parties and all three-letter agencies—weaponize the Department of Justice against The Donald and anybody within his orbit to ensure nobody stays within his orbit.

Whoever fights monsters should see to it that in the process he does not become a monster.

~ Friedrich Nietzsche

A friend, Peter Boghossian, noted that the solution to extreme left-wing politics is not extreme right-wing politics. The legendary Doug Murray says that revenge is a terrible emotion. I agree with both of these guys, but we are in a cold civil war that I fear could turn hot. As songwriter Bruce Cockburn lyrically noted, “If I had a rocket launcher, some son-of-a-bitch would pay.” I never want to see somebody hurt, but it is also never off my list. I now want to see Trump win. I want to see his detractors completely lose their minds.

Tim Deace of the Tim Deace Show: Who is the alternative media host or platform you think needs more prominence in a post-Fox world?

Jill Savage: I am going to go with an off-the-wall one in Dave Collum. He has a year-in-review document that he does. He is a professor at Cornell, but he is brilliant. Every podcast that he does is a must-listen.11

I did not see that one coming. I am also leaving Covid and Fauci alone this year. I think he is a mass murderer, and the response to Covid he orchestrated was an abomination, but it is time to move on with selective forgiveness. If you acted in a way that appears cowardly to protect your job or well-being, I understand. I got jabbed to protect mine. (Just today, my urologist let loose on the vaccine and lockdown with the same angst about its risk and not having a choice.) I am, however, rooting for the civil courts to mete out justice to the authoritarians and institutions who could have attenuated the bad response. I am less optimistic that the real criminals will become Billy Holiday’s strange fruit hanging. Next time they try to take our freedoms like that—and there will be a next time—get ready to fertilize that Tree of Liberty. Not a gun fan? Well, a Louisville slugger or a sand wedge are multipurpose. How the doctors and scientists regain their credibility is unclear, but here is a good starting point: stop lying.

Nobody has the right to not be offended. That right doesn’t exist in any declaration I have ever read.

~ Salman Rushdie

The obedient always think of themselves as virtuous rather than cowardly.

~ George Carlin

I have always imposed a personal gag order for one topic: I have assiduously avoided debates about Israel and Palestine. Well, this was a good year to retake my vows of verbal chastity. I have some novel thoughts—some controversial ones—but you ain’t gonna read about them here. This, of course, will piss off both sides who believe they are fighting genocide, but you are gonna have to carry on without me. I have touched the topic in public three times.

  • I said to the students in my graduate class the following:

As you know, the world changed rather markedly two days ago. I am confident that there are supporters of both sides of this issue in this class, and it is quite personal to some of you. I urge you to be kind to each other.

 

Be kind, for everyone you meet is fighting a hard battle.

~ Plato

Notice that I was so anodyne that I did not say what changed the World.

  • I commented once on Twitter the day after the attack:

  • I’ve suggested on podcasts that the conflict could go global. This situation is way more risky than Ukraine. I envision World War III as a global civil war—a global-scale Rwanda. I hope not. It is, at the very least, yet another profound inflammation to keep former friends fighting.

We have a challenge around political diversity on the campus…I would love to see a way in which we would expand the breadth of voices that we hear in our community…the answer is more speech. Not indifferent speech, not less speech.

~ Michael Kotlikoff, Cornell Provost and friend

Unfortunately, others at Cornell were more liberal with their free speech and got Cornell into a pickle. Professor Rickman made national headlines by saying he was “exhilarated” by the Hamas attack.12 Incoming! The University President, Martha Pollack, denounced him by declaring that these “do not represent Cornell’s values.” She noted that this was only the second time that she denounced the opinions of a faculty member. Any guesses who the target of the first one was? Yup. Me. I defended the police in 2020 when they knocked an old man over in Buffalo.13

She was fundamentally wrong; the old guy was a scam artist looking for a fight, and he faked his injuries. The police acted appropriately. Her denunciations of both Rickman and me were wrong at a fundamental level for another reason: She cannot speak for Cornell or its values. She can speak for her values with the gravitas of the presidency backing her. She can discuss Cornell’s codes of conduct. But Cornell is an eclectic glob of characters with divergent values and conflicting ideas. Nobody can speak for Cornell’s values.

Martha’s job got worse within the week when a Korean kid posted horrific anti-semitic shit across social media. Both reputational and dollar losses for Cornell that week were incalculable. Two months later three Presidents of other elite universities—Harvard, Penn, and MIT—got hammered in front of Congress.14 They were inexcusably unprepared for the questions, placing their jobs at risk by the blunder. They screwed the pooch badly, but, in the spirit of Rikki Schlott’s treatise, Canceling of the American Mind (see Books), I think canceling them is inappropriate.

I suspect they entered those hallowed Halls of Congress arrogantly marinating in their superior intellects and self-worth, not realizing their opponents were armed with machetes not brains. I would, however, fire Harvard’s Claudine Gay for what she did to Roland Fryer15 under the guise of social justice and Law Professor Ronald S. Sullivan16 for defending Harvey Weinstein because apparently some are undeserving of good legal counsel. One could argue she should be fired and lose her PhD for multiple counts of alleged plagiarism.17,18

Gay’s whole research agenda, her whole career, was based on my work… I don’t believe her record warranted tenure.19

~Professor Carol Swain, waiting for this moment to pounce

UPenn lost its president within days, but whether she left in shame or disgust is unclear.20 Billionaire Harvard alums are sharpening their Schiffs for Claudine, but I betcha she will sneak out the backdoor soon.21 Elite universities may have collectively forfeited billions of donations. That is understandable but also unfair in my opinion. Universities have thousands of faculty and tens of thousands of students, many with batshit crazy ideas. Would you pull your support because you discovered there were some nutjobs in that crowd? I bleed Cornell Red. It is a great institution, and I continue to support it. By the way, nothing I just wrote should be construed as support for any national or ethnic group, but it probably will be.

Major Themes of the 2023 Year in Review. Well, with all that taken off the table, what the hell are you gonna talk about? Cool your jets. I am returning to Ukraine for some cleanup of that narrative and will top off Climate Change because the Climate Grifters will be pillaging for decades. The usual discussions of broken markets, the Fed, inflation, and the economy are discussed to tee up my case for a Multi-Decade Bear Market. (This is my base case; it could get worse.) I peek at RFK, Jr. as the second most interesting candidate in many election cycles—Trump being the first—and the catastrophic collapse of Law and Order. Part I wraps with a look at the curious oddities underlying the Maui fires and use them as a springboard to examine directed-energy weapons. I pulled my books section forward out of fear that it will be omitted like last year’s because I ran out of gas.

Part 2 of this YIR, presuming I can finish it, is where the really disturbing stuff rears its ugly head. After some credible concerns about Woke Culture (neo-Marxism) and transgenderism (more neo-Marxism), I intend to shoot into the darkest rabbit hole ever—the influence of pedophilia and geopolitics. This is not generic Epstein crap, but rather an attempt to understand how a million kids disappear from the face of the Earth each year and the untold dark tale of their fates.

There is something happening here. What it is ain’t exactly clear.

~ Buffalo Springfield

Why has this year been such a personal battle? Well, the pedophilia theme sucked the soul out of me and continues to be a work in progress. A section on Healthcare touches upon personal challenges that imposed both time and emotional constraints on my creative juices.

You gotta get right back under the horse.

~ Catherine the Great

Contents

Part 1

Introduction

Contents

My Year

Healthcare

Investing – Gold, Energy, and Materials

Gold and Silver

Broken Markets

Multi-Decade Bull Market: 40 Years of Recency Bias

The Case for a Multi-Decade Bear Market

Part 2

Law and Order

Media

Robert F. Kennedy, Jr.

Climate Change-Epilogue

News Nuggets

Lahaina Fires and DEWs

The War in Ukraine–Epilogue

 

Part 3 (Coming in January of 2024)

January 6–Epilogue

Woke Culture and Rising Neo-Marxism

Transgenderism

Pedophilia and Geopolitics

 

My Year

You can skip this part, but it is my annual Dear Diary entry, and there is some generally useful content. After years of stellar teaching evaluations with particular enthusiasm focused on my entertaining campfire stories, I started having minor scuffles with the snowflakes. A half dozen years ago I gave a guest lecture for a colleague. While describing my proclivity for not accepting chemical dogma, I alluded to my tendency to not accept conventional wisdom outside academia too. One sentence piqued the students’ angst: “There is something odd about the Las Vegas shootings that is not right; I’m gonna figure that one out.” That’s all it took for five graduate students to converge on the Chair’s office with hurt feelings. I was spot on that one too; the Las Vegas shootings were totally whacked.1 My initial response was, “Fuck ‘em.” But the message is clear: political climate change is serious.

It comes out of not loving your children. People who love their children don’t drill holes in your children’s life raft.

~ Eric Weinstein

I went to a symposium on “Free Speech in the Classroom” organized by Cornell’s President. I was ready to pounce with a few questions. She was a no-show as were the hard scientists, leaving the room filled with professors in the squishier subjects. The takehome lesson for me was that everybody is afraid of the students. How could an LGBTQLMNOP Gender Studies professor possibly not be bulletproof? Well, while I am walking on egg shells teaching chemists-in-training (OK. stomping on them); the humanists are dancing on chards of glass in front of an army of activists-in-training looking for scalps. (Can I still say scalps? Apparently, because I just did.) Don’t be too quick to blame the colleges for this sad state of affairs, however. The freshman are Children of the Corn, some arriving pre-fucked up by indoctrination since daycare with parents who failed to adequately immunize them from bad ideas.

If people can’t control their own emotions then they have to start to control other people’s behavior.

~ John Cleese

This year I started the semester debilitated by a 1.5-inch bladder stone to be taken out by Dr. Luke Skywalker and his lightsaber that week. I told my class on Day One of the semester, “no chemistry today” and chatted with them while writhing in pain in a semi-fetal position sitting on a table. I discussed grading policy, study hints and habits, the profoud importance of digitally disconnecting long enough to get work done, and the philosophy of the course. To get ahead of the rumor mill, I also explained why my 2020 cancellation originating from two brawls with national labor unions (UAW and AFT) and the subsequent smear campaigns by the butt-hurt union organizers has made me Google toxic.

I also assured them that I will likely say something that offends them but urged them to talk to me rather than some adult, because I am the only one who actually cares to have that conversation. Well, the call came in later that day: I was told to stay in my lane or risk a mass exodus from the class. After a fusillade of F-bombs—I used F-bombs like authors use a space bar—I prepared for the next lecture. At the end of the 2nd lecture, having made several dozen wisecracks and fully demonstrated my linguistic incontinence, I told the class about my scolding, that Larry Summers is correct about lacking a filter, and that, “if that is gonna offend you, I suggest you drop the course.” (That was the last response my reprimander was looking for.)

 

Well, two lectures later the second gag order came in via the Department Chair. Comically, he could not even tell me the actual complaint, only that some nimrod in the university relayed a vague message. The following lecture I noted that it was getting comical and admitted I was wrong: “I misspoke: you should complain to the President because I am now gunning for a university record.” The semester was littered with standard harmless wisecracks and campfire stories and the occasional edgy statement with no complaints. I suspected that within a few lectures the students realized I was a harmless punk, not mean spirited at all, and care deeply about them. On 12/15/23 I got my teaching evaluations. Something in me snapped. It was audible. My wife tried to console me. It may be irreversible.

If my dog bothers you, I can put you in the other room.

~ Source Unknown

On a positive note, we got another Boston Terrier! They are wonderful.2,3 That makes three for us and another two with my son. They are soooo affectionate, especially when I am eating. This particular photo made the Big-Time when Brent Johnson slipped it into his talk at the New Orleans Investment Conference. The fat bastard in the front is known as “Fucking Charlie” from a podcast with Anthony Pompliano in which I had to keep pushing him off my lap with the phrase, “Fucking Charlie!” Even so, my crew’s fame would have a tough time keeping up with the legendary singing French Bulldog, Walter Geoffrey.4,5

 

I just like Dave’s voice. Whatever he says is fine, too.

~ commenter with a nasal fetish

            Talks and Podcasts. I got to speak at Porter Stansberry’s tent revival, oddly now estranged from Stansberry Research, joining Meb Faber as the two outsiders. I presented my Multi-Decade-Bear-Market thesis outline below. It was my second year at Brien Lundin’s New Orleans Investment Conference. I repeated the Bear Market theme but got to hang with old friends and join Lyn Alden, Peter Boockvar, and Jimmy Iourio on a panel discussing the Boom-Bust cycle. The bearishness was palpable.

I appeared on over 50 podcasts this year. I love chatting for hours with smart guys (especially Jake of Statefarm), and, if they want to record it, that’s fine too. Each one is special. The group ones with Tommy Carrigan, Jim Kunstler, and Tom Luongo have an interesting dynamic. Mike Farris is so affable. The podcasts with John Cullen (former Oracle code writer) on the Las Vegas shootings and Covid Narrative were highly produced and quite different as podcasts go. Maybe it’s just a coincidence, but fact-checking articles soon appeared after years of dormancy.6,7 I begged Rudy Havenstein (@RudyHavenstein) for years to do a podcast pushing Grant Williams knowing Grant’s enthusiasm for the idea. He finally bit with Grant and Stephanie Pomboy, and it was great.8 His second was prompted by Rudy to join him in a threesome; we asked hodler Marty Bent to host it.9,10 Well, that opened the floodgates for Rudy. He’s brilliant.

Dave is a cross between Carl Sagan, Albert Einstein, the Outlaw Josey Wales and many, many great philosophers and religious leaders. He’s flawed like all of us but has a steady moral compass with a conviction which defends it.

~ comment in Cedric’s podcast

Links to my 2023 podcasts:

  • Jesse Day (@jessebday) Commodity Culture.11
  • 2022 New Orleans Investment Conference panel discussion on conspiracy theories. (I chose state-sponsored mass shootings).12
  • 2023 New Orleans Investment Conference Conspiracy Theory Panel13 with Russell Gray (@REGuysRadio) and Chris Powell of Gold Antitrust Action Committee (GATA).

I like listening to people interview Collum to see how long he can go without talking about kicking someone’s ass. Seriously, he does it every time.

~ Commenter on Moriarty’s podcast

  • Jonathan Kogan (@Kogz) of The Jonathan Kogan Show.14
  • Jonathan Kogan (@Kogz) of The Jonathan Kogan Show.15,16
  • Mike Farris (@CoffeeandaMike) of Coffee and a Mike.17
  • Mike Farris (@CoffeeandaMike) of Coffee and a Mike.18,19
  • Mike Farris (@CoffeeandaMike) of Coffee and a Mike.20
  • Mike Farris (@CoffeeandaMike) of Coffee and a Mike (11/23).21
  • Michael Gayed (@leadlagreport) of Lead-Lag Report (June).22,23,24
  • Jim Iuorio (@jimiuorio) and Bob Iaccino (@Bob_Iaccino) on Futures Edge.25
  • Keyvan Davani (@keyvandavani) of TheKeyvanDavaniConnection.26,27
  • 2023 New Orleans Investment Conference talk and Boom and Bust panel28 with Lyn Alden (@LynAldenContact), Peter Boockvar (@pboockvar), and Jim Iuorio (@jimiuorio).
  • Cedric Youngelman (@CedYoungelman) of The Bitcoin Matrix (1st).29
  • Cedric Youngelman (@CedYoungelman) of The Bitcoin Matrix) (2nd).30
  • Chris Irons (@QTRResearch) of Quoth the Raven (late 12/22).31
  • Kai Hoffmann of Soar Financially.32
  • Andrew Stotz of My Worst Investment Ever (3/23).33,34
  • Andrew Stotz of My Worst Investment Ever (4/23).35

Wife Tricks Husband Into Listening To Her By Starting Every Statement With ‘Welcome To My Podcast’

~ Babylon Bee

  • James Delingpole (@JMCDelingpole) podcast.36,37
  • Tommy Carrigan (@tommys_podcast) of Tommy’s Podcast with James Koutoulas (@jameskoutoulas).38
  • Tommy Carrigan (@tommys_podcast) with Tom Luongo (@TFL1728) and James Kunstler (@jhkunstler) (4/23).39
  • Tommy Carrigan (@tommys_podcast) with Tom Luongo (@TFL1728) and James Kunstler (@jhkunstler) (6/23).40
  • Tommy Carrigan (@tommys_podcast) with Tom Luongo (@TFL1728) and James Kunstler (@jhkunstler) (8/23).41
  • Tommy Carrigan (@tommys_podcast) with Tom Luongo (@TFL1728) and James Kunstler (@jhkunstler) (9/23).42
  • Tommy Carrigan (@tommys_podcast) with Tom Luongo (@TFL1728) and James Kunstler (@jhkunstler) (coming on 12/20).
  • Anthony Fatseas (@AnthonyFatseas) on WTFinance.43
  • Tom Luongo (@TFL1728) of Gold Goats ‘n Guns.44
  • Tom Luongo (@TFL1728) of Gold Goats ‘n Guns (11/23).45,46
  • John Cullen (@I_Am_JohnCullen) discussion of Las Vegas shootings (continuous stream).47
  • John Cullen (@I_Am_JohnCullen) discussion of Las Vegas shootings (full production).48
  • John Cullen (@I_Am_JohnCullen) discussion of the Covid Pandemic.49
  • Alison Morrow (@AlisonMorrowTV) with late arrival.50
  • James Kunstler (@jhkunstler) on KunstlerCast (1/23).51
  • Anthony Pompliano (@APompliano).52
  • Jay Martin (@JayMartin) of the Jay Martin Show.53
  • Jay Martin (@JayMartin) of the Jay Martin Show (9/23).54
  • Marty Bent (@MartyBent) on Tales from the Crypt (1/23).55
  • Marty Bent (@MartyBent) on Tales from the Crypt with Rudy Havenstein (@RudyHavenstein).56,57

  • Kevin Estopinal (@KevinEstopinal) podcast (2/23).58
  • Kevin Estopinal (@KevinEstopinal) podcast (6/23).59
  • Jason Burack (@JasonEBurack) on WallStForMainSt.60
  • Logan Moody (@realLoganMoody) The Contrarian.61
  • Mark Moss (@1MarkMoss) Podcast.62
  • Wall Street Silver (@WallStreetSilv).63
  • WallStreetSilver (@WallStreetSilv).64
  • Tom Nelson (@TomANelson).65
  • Antonio Atanasov (@antonioatanasv) Resource Talks.66

Cherish those that seek the truth but beware of those that find it.

~ Voltaire

Healthcare

Healthcare in the Collum-Cornell clan was fairly standard if graded on a tough curve set over the last 35 years. On December 5th, 2022 my wife fell and broke her neck. She had broken it a dozen years ago, and my mother cracked her neck and died in 1999, so this was getting routine. (As an ex-gymnast I knew six broken necks, including Mark Caso at UCLA who went on to become Leonardo the Ninja Turtle.1) Stay on the subject, Dave. Healing for the 12/5/22 break was proceeding well according to her neurosurgeon, but, after follow-up visits and several CT scans, he started talking nonsense about fusing it because of her unusual pain. Red flag: neurosurgeons operate on structural problems and neurological malfunctioning not pain. We got a second opinion ASAP and found out the most recent CT scan had been done of her head rather than her neck: seemed like a fuckup. Doc Two gets a CT on the neck, walks into the office, and asks the most loaded question: “Did you fall again?” Indeed, on December 8th—three days after the first break—she fell and broke it again. This was on C1—this one is often fatal—and it was not just a hairline crack. Did Doc One miss this niggling little detail and was covering his ass? She is not very comfortable, but there was nothing more to be done until a third (non-neurosurgeon) expressed concerns about the stability. We are now considering a fusion, which will cause total loss of mobility. She has almost none now.

Urologist: You have to stop choking the chicken.

Me: Why?

Urologist: I am trying to examine you.

I have now reached the “get off my lawn” age, and it is getting statistically challenging to respect my elders. (I thought getting old—adult-onset progeria—would take longer.) Running a distant second place to my wife, I had several issues too. The key YIR writing month of the year—December—was wiped out by a nasty flu-like ailment caught from the little Typhoid Harrys—the grandchildren—during Thanksgiving. But more serious troubles started much earlier.

Revised Hospital Chart Has Patients Rate Pain On Scale From Zero To Watching ‘The View’

~ The Babylon Bee

I had been pissing wads of bladder sand about every 4–6 weeks for several years. That stopped abruptly, which was either good news—not generating it anymore— or bad news because it had congealed into something bigger and unpassable. I reached the point of serious discomfort—bladder stones are spherical but jagged—and began doctor shopping with one criterion: will he see me. After two more months of painful urinations, each the volume of a shot glass, the medical system quit ghosting me and sent in Bruce Willis and Ben Affleck to blow up what had become a 1.5-inch asteroid.

Having now acquired experience with adult diapers, pissing what looked like egg-drop soup, and gulping down courses of antibiotics, I am symptom-free. My doc, however, said that I should get my prostate, which is now the size of an orange owing to mui macho loads of testosterone, pruned. They’re going in 2/1/24. Google reminds me it could have been worse and that bladder stones were likely the early demise of many an unhappy male in previous generations: This is not mine, but this guy suffered…

I wondered if the sudden bladder problems2,3 and a steeply rising blood pressure (50 points in the last two years) might trace to the vaccine. What is undeniable is that (1) getting old sucks, and (2) something has gone very wrong with our healthcare system. My wife has had 60 surgeries. That is not an estimate but rather a precise count. I am intimately familiar with how the medical system works from the consumer’s end. I also know the other end of the healthcare system owing to collaborations and consultantships with nearly a dozen big-cap pharma companies, including 20 years at Pfizer and a stint on Merck’s long-range steering committee. I’m tellin’ ya, somethin’ has gone wrong.

Bladder or prostate cancer was on my shortlist of concerns while being ghosted by the system. Imagine being told by your oncologist that you can meet with their physician’s assistant in two months. It is tempting to make appointments with all my docs pre-emptively—medical timeshares—and cancel them as they are not needed. Physicians have been demoted to purveyors of blood tests and scans, provided they can squeeze in a 10-minute cameo appearance on a Zoom call. The legendary Doctor Drew wonders about the invasion of AI into medicine.4 The new-fangled healthcare portals force you to interpret the test results in a process akin to self-checkout at Whole Foods. Your next colonoscopy may be a robotic gerbil fitted with a GoPro camera that you control with an app on your iPhone.

Pig orgasms can last up to 90 minutes.

(I needed a quote, but I am a damned Snapple Cap.) I have resorted to using Twitter for medical help, which requires care and caution, but with 100,000 followers you’d be surprised by the results. I also have serious advice for everybody: if you go on a new drug of any kind, search the name of the drug on Twitter. You will very quickly find out if it is a bad or good drug by the tenor of the chatter. My wife had a bad experience with Keppra: the whole story was right there.

I finally succumbed to family pressure to get hearing aids. Somebody is going to have to explain to me how $20 worth of hardware can cost $7000. I asked the Woman in the White Lab Coat how I could stuff 10 iPhones in my ears or wrap 25 noise-dampening BOSE headphones around my head for the same price. The hearing-industrial complex smacks of a scam, but I must admit to hearing surreal things. Is that what rain sounds like? Is that what my blinker sounds like? Day one I was in the DMV, and I could hear every keystroke, every mouse click, every conversation. It was like a sci-fi movie.

Compared to others, my experiences are little annoyances, but the Healthcare system is confronting the perfect storm.

  • Boomer healthcare will contribute massively to the GDP, leaving intellectually unwary economists oblivious to the fact that those trillions are not a product but rather the cost of maintaining a highly depreciating asset—Bastiate’s Broken Prostate Falacy.
  • The aging boomers were already pushing the system to its breaking point. The medical-industrial complex salivated at the prospect of escorting the boomers to the light in a slow, costly cruise ship, but provisions for growing the staff to handle the rising demand were overlooked.

  • As brilliantly delineated in These Are the Plunderers: How Private Equity Runs—and Wrecks—America by Gretchen Morgenson and Joshua Rosner (see Books), private equity has been buying up hospitals, companies that manage emergency rooms, and health insurers. These corporate raiders strip-mine services to the bone, load the companies with huge debts, and pay themselves astronomical dividends and management fees. Thanks to horrific monetary policy creating mountains of dumb money, they then dump these shells of companies staffed with Doctors of Walmart on the open market for bloated prices, after which 47% of them are restructured through Chapter 7 or 11 bankruptcies. Jobs and pensions are lost, lives are destroyed, and communities are left without hospitals as formerly financially viable enterprises are ground to dust. What mystifies me is why these pirates of the high seas don’t get capped in their asses by angry consumers.
  • Covid knocked the healthcare system on its ass. The lockdown created a massive backlog of medical procedures while hospitals sat empty. The forced vaccinations elicited early retirements and firings of vaccine-hesitant workers—those unwilling to follow the policies of Dr. Mengele (Tony Fauci) and his bio-bimbo (Debbie Birks). You may notice they are now denying that they served up these policies. A physician’s assistant at the University of Rochester told me a mandated booster was canceled because they realized that the Rochester facility would lose another 25% of their staff.
  • Our erstwhile healthcare heroes—doctors and nurses—have noticed that inflation is a problem. They are now striking owing to 16-hour shifts and staffing shortages, which I am told does not help the staffing shortages.5

It could get worse. Nationalized healthcare is when the government takes your dollars and pays for your healthcare albeit with profound inefficiencies and 100-fold markups6,7 that often accompany government programs. Centralized healthcare—a term coined in my 2021 writeup8—is when the government tells your doctor how to treat you.9 We saw it with the vaccines, testing protocols, and existing and new Covid treatments. Lobbyists will make a fortune as they ensure that their clients’ products are on the approved list. The list will be extensive because the completely captured and fraudulent FDA will now approve anything regardless of efficacy and its LD-50.10 The FDA is also tightening its control over inexpensive off-label and off-patent prescriptions—drugs that are technically not covered by FDA approval but known to work.11 Meanwhile, since you cannot advertise off-label prescriptions covered by patent protection, they are sanctioned and promoted widely using news reports of “promising treatments.” This year, for example, we witnessed the diabetes drugs marketed off-label through news reports proclaiming “great promise” at eliciting weight loss.12,13 One has already been pulled from the market. Recall that 75% of the media advertising dollars come from Pharma, so the media whores go heels up when summoned. What would Elon say? GFY.

I am increasingly aware of the importance of nutrition and health. (Yeah. I know. What a genius.) I used to think only bliss ninnies worried about ingesting toxins, but I am starting to wonder. Recent studies show the Amish are not getting all the modern ailments that plague “the English”, including a striking lack of covid mortalities, diabetes, and autism.14 And at a scientific level, the growing awareness that the bugs comprising the human biome—those 100,000 retroviruses and gazillions of unicellular organisms in our gut and elsewhere—are not just freeloaders but rather function symbiotically to help us reach old age. Biome transplants—sterilization of the entire gut and inoculation with a new biome from a healthy donor—are leading to extraordinary discoveries about how the biome influences your general health. Biome transplants from fat bastards can turn you into a fat bastard. I have to read more on this and a related topic, epigenetics. Personalized healthcare, in which they treat you based on your genome and your genetics, also seems promising. Alas, companies like Blackstone are already digging into the potential massive grift.15

Don’t get me wrong: I do not practice what I preach. I am a portly fuck with high blood pressure and a fondness for greasy food who is haunted by the pejorative, “muffin top.” There is a funny phenomenon, however, that I discovered by chance. Go to Google and search “identical twins smoking”. The smoking filters out the cute kids. The curious result is that you will see dozens of identical twins that remain identical deep into adulthood.16 You also discover that this was known.17

Does that mean if I had an identical twin he would lean on the heavy side as well (after years of being fit as shit, I hasten to add)? If body weight is based on life choices, are these choices genetically determined?

Oh well, I use intermittent fasting to touch the bag and start leading off like Barry Bonds. This prevents the walrus phase from becoming permanent. I have dropped 15 lbs since Thanksgiving. My goal is to clip my toenails without holding my breath. In the end, however, somebody will likely find me slumped over in a La-Z-Boy recliner having died of a heart attack with my cold dead fingers firmly gripping a half-eaten bag of Cheetos. If you look carefully, you will see a smile on my face.

Investing

Dave Collum is easily the best single investor I have come across.1

–Bob Moriarty

Well, that was nice. I live on Cayuga Lake in a house that is a lifestyle changer, but it is threefold more expensive than I needed, which forces me to call it a real estate play. I use Zillow to track it on my balance sheet. Cash in TIAA and other short-term bonds are returning about 3.5%. I also have 15% of my wealth in a fund that is not under my control (white privilege from my parents) and is an old-man 40–60 equity-bond split. It got beat up last year reaching for yield; it was OK this year. Some selected risk assets held during 2023 are below, many of which are relatively new and rather speculative. I also have some other tobacco and energy stocks that I have owned for years.

  • Fidelity Select Gold Portfolio (FSAGX):   –2%
  • Fidelity Natural Resources Fund (FNARX):   +5%
  • Fidelity Select Energy Portfolio (FSENX):   +0%
  • Goehring & Rozencwajg Resources (GRHIX): +12%
  • Impala Platinum (IMPUY): –45%
  • Jaguar Mining (JAGGF): –22%
  • Palm Valley Capital Fund (PVCMX):               +9%
  • Rio Tinto (RIO):               +5%
  • Sibanye Stillwater Limited (SBSW): –39%
  • Sprott Physical Silver Trust (PSLV):               +4%
  • Central Fund of Canada               +3%
  • Gold             +13%
  • Silver               +4%
  • PRPH –45%
  • WDOFF +19%
  • EWZ +34%

Some of those even surprised me how much they had blown up like a Ukrainian tank. Before you blow a snot bubble, however, and question the sanity of Bob Moriarty, bear in mind those highly speculative losers may evidence bad judgement but were also insignificant weightings; they were mere flesh wounds. The physical metals and their equivalents are so dominant that the net total return was +6% year-over-year. That ties inflation, but only if you buy those low-balled official inflation numbers. I believe, however, that how investors fare in the next “ordeal by water”—that trial used by overzealous Fed governors on witches—will separate the living from the dead.

I am still interested in the platinum miners. PRPH is a speculative biotech play supported with wild enthusiasm by a friend with serious skin in the game. I am infatuated with Rio Tinto as a broadly based materials play. The EWZ is a Brazillian/BRICs bet inspired by Tavi Costa.

It is equally beyond doubt, that every speculative mania which has run its course of folly and disaster in this country has derived its original impulse from cheap money.

~ The Economist, 1858

I did well—spectacularly, actually—in the 30 years spanning 1980–2009. My huge mistake was that I was positive the orderly swan dive in ‘08–’09 was a head fake and that there was much more damage to be done; I expected another halving. When the markets hit the lows that were modestly below historical fair value—I talk about this more below—and I was nearly 80% liquid, I should have asked a simple question: how much exposure to equities should I have at the current valuations? Markets are like Father Guido Sarducci’s a-comin’ and a-goin’ planet: you know where you are but not where you are headed. My current positioning is probably my last big call in investing. I am still very liquid. My portfolio has been the polar opposite of the S&P on many days this year, which pleases me because I am trying to position against the S&P. Since I am predicting the markets will get interesting in a catastrophic sort of way as discussed in subsequent sections, it is not the time to re-pot myself.

On one final note, I think you save for the future and invest to beat inflation. I take pride when my saving soars. I had some big expenses this year, including buying my wife a new car, repairing the old car to give to my son, installing an osprey nest in the lake right off my deck to make my wife as happy as possible, putting in some French drains, and contributing 5-digit sums from the Bank of Dad to each kid to make their lives a little easier. I still managed to save 25% of my gross annual salary this year. I am not living paycheck-to-paycheck, because I am paid well—academics at elite schools can be well-compensated provided they put up some good numbers—and I try to live a simple existence. Read the Millionaire Next Door; it’s about the psychology of saving.

The Fed has never attempted a dive of this degree of difficulty.

~ Bill Fleckenstein

Gold and the Precious Metals

We’re at this point in time where we don’t have any road left to kick the can on our mismanagement of finances and monetary policy…the dollar will collapse under the weight of the deficit. I think gold is a good long-term hold, gold and other real assets with true value, such as land, gold and collectibles.1

~ Jeff Gundlach

Gold started at $1830 jumped to a new all-time high of $2050 before getting monkey hammered to $1850. Short sellers who showed up in early December, however, got pegged when Powell spotted something that scared the hell out of him and announced rate cuts were coming. (Rumors of a failing Japanese bank are swirling as I type.) Gold is sitting at +12% ytd, but the price volatility could put this number out of date pronto. Silver hit a new decade high and shared the same playbook, albeit with a uninspired +11% year-to-date gain. The equities, despite good fundamentals on an absolute value (cash flow, strong balance sheets, low valuations) without invoking bullshit fictional reserve buried deep some God-forsaken regions of the world, managed a disappointing 2% despite gold’s rise. If you spot a tweet about me buying more gold equities, please send me some hate mail.

Given that the dollar’s surge against most currencies, metal investors ought to be pleased that they have not gotten scalped. This is all pre-game noise, however. We will discover the metals’ mettle when we get dragged into the next serious economic and market downturn. I was confident that Powell was looking more like Paul Volcker than Arthur Burns, he did an abrupt 180 December. Although the metals might surge, that Powell’s skittishness foreshadows something lurking in the pipes of the banking system. I always worry that the metals may track the S&P down if liquidity tightens. I wouldn’t look for historical precedents: every downturn has unique idiosyncrasies. I am optimistic because there were quite a few days when the metals correlated inversely with the S&P. The following chart from Incrementum supports the case for metals outperforming the S&P during hard times.

The following plot shows gold whoops equities after a yield curve inversion:

Well, the yield curve inverted starting in mid-2022. The current inversion is both persistent and the steepest of all time. History also shows that risk assets’ luge ride to the downside begins in earnest when the curve un-inverts.

Here are a few nuggets to ponder.

  • Zimbabwe issued a gold-backed currency, and the IMF got their underwear in a bunch. We’ll have none of that.2
  • Total global silver demand in 2022 came in at a record $1.242 billion ounces.3 This represented an 18% increase in silver demand over 2021.4 It is unclear how demand and supply aren’t the same numbers by definition.
  • It looks like Mexico is clamping down on existing mining operations by shortening their permits (rights) by decades, adding a 5% surcharge on profits, and restricting water use.5
  • In the first six months of 2023, China’s central bank bought an estimated 353 tons.6 China’s official gold reserves reached 5,029 tons by the end of June 2023. Some pundits are coming in with numbers 10 times that.

Despite a multi-year horrific performance, I think Platinum may be the story to watch in the coming years. The physical metal has been dead money for years, hovering in a narrow band in the 900s. Even the gold bugs never talk about platinum. I am not a platinum expert although I have chatted with a couple. I suspect that the EV push has depleted demand for catalytic converters and investors’ interest in platinum. However, the EVs don’t look like a panacea to me. With the platinum miners located in South Africa (70% global production with rolling blackouts) and our relations with Russia a tad strained, platinum supplies could become very tight on top of an extant global shortage that is set to worsen soon (quarters not years) according to the World Platinum Investment Council (WPIC).7 I presume the WPIC is a public relations group to stir up interest.

Meanwhile, the platinum miners (SBSW, IMPUY, and ANGPY) are priced like escorts in the San Francisco’s Tenderloin District. A disastrous mine problem at SBSW didn’t exactly help the sentiment or the price, forcing it to chop jobs and issue convertible shares.8 I spent a couple of days with a huge consumer of these shares who lives up near our cabin in the Adirondacks and am convinced that patience and the fat-assed 6–8% dividends (provided they hold up) pay you to be patient. Imagine what those shares would do if EVs lost their luster, hydrogen fuel cells became The New Thing, or platinum attained “meme” status after years of dormancy.

For a US investor, it hasn’t worked for an awfully long time. For many investors, it hasn’t worked in their professional careers…investors have limted capacity to take pain and lack the energy to defend a concept that’s underperformed for decades.9

~ Cliff Asness (@CliffordAsness), founder of AQR Capital, talking about another asset class but…

Broken Markets

Now is a good time to buy or sell something that will generate me a fee or commission.

~ @RudyHavenstein, 2016

You’ve gotta wonder what happened to that recession we were promised if Powell hiked rates to 3%. Was that just 14 days to flatten the curve or have markets done their endzone dance prematurely? Maybe this hysteresis is like March 2007, and that freight train is still just a low rumble off in the distance. The markets haven’t cracked, and the sell-side bookies wouldn’t know if the markets were about to star in Wall Street Chainsaw Massacre. Barron’s couldn’t even see it in December 2007, proclaiming “A Bullish Call: Wall Street’s seers forecast more gains for stocks next year.” Some of the uber-bears like Grantham, Hussman, and Felder assure us the end is nigh, possibly cutting well below the halfway mark (S&P sub-2000).

When you get into a bear market, the bottom is not just back to normal. If you’ve been far above normal, then the bear market carries you far below normal.

~ Sir John Templeton in October 2001

The QQQs are up >40% year to date, which I suspect does not reflect a 40% growth in their capacity to create wealth. These markets are a Tinder/Grinder dating app run by MarketsGPT. This does not matter to me because, although my biological clock is ticking, my investment time horizon still stretches out years if not decades. I believe you should marry an investment to withstand the ebbs and flows en route to sustainable winners. You dump the wretch when the prospects for sustainable gains become bleak. I’ve never understood taking profits just for the sake of retrieving your initial investment unless there is something more appealing to invest in. I divorced my equities in ’99 and married gold and cash. My bug compatriots urged me to sell with both hands after gold launched above $300. I didn’t because I was married to it.

            Technical Events. The geezers may have noticed that the language of Wall Street has mutated into nearly 100% technical lingo in which volatility, momentum, liquidity, sentiment, stock splits, support, resistance, Fibonacci numbers, various arbitrarily chosen moving averages, announced share buybacks, some Fed governor made a farting noise with his armpit, and, the dumbest of them all, cash on the sidelines are spewed by meatheads on CNBC. Interest rates are still quite low by historical standards and very low if they would stop lying about inflation. Tina—There is no alternative, an allusion to an equities-only portfolio strategy that seems to have drawn the affection of all the boys in town—appears to be on maternity leave with rates creeping to lordly 5%. She was quite the partier, but the slut’s absence hasn’t yet been noticed by equity markets.

Investors can’t get enough of Japan[ese] firms’ stock splits, which make shares more affordable. And many of those firms are beating the benchmark Topix index.

~ Bloomberg, hyping stock splits, apparently after treatment with an MIB neuralyzer

I will eventually attempt to peer way over the horizon. I’m obliged, however, as part of a Year in Review to hit a few admittedly random events to satisfy the ADHD crowd.

  • Steph Pomboy says Indiana University economists’ S&P earnings “fraud indicators” are at 50-year highs.1
  • BlackRock CEO Larry Fink is backing away from his “ESG” scam, blaming it on QAnon leader Ron DeSantis.2
  • Simon Hunt predicts the S&P will bounce off “support” at 3000 before crashing hard into a depression as interest rates soar into double digits.3
  • The yield curve became the most inverted in almost four decades. Astute market watchers note that the whiplash back to normal is when the projectile vomiting commences.

All bull markets run out of money.4

~ Walter Deemer, 1972

  • Jesse Felder reminds us that market breadth—the percentage of stocks contributing to climbing the Wall of Worry—is the narrowest since 1990.5 “Excess liquidity” is a negative 11%. Tavi Costa notes that seeing tech stocks surging while the rest of he market declines has always foreshadowed major bear markets, such as seen in vicious countertrend rallies during the Dotcom Bust.”6
  • Tom McClellan has noted, “In the entire published history of monetary aggregates (since 1959), there has never been an M2 drop as big as what we are experiencing,” suggesting stocks are gonna suffer Death by Bongo.7
  • Precious few pay heed to John Hussman’s warnings that the tech stocks are elevated by “the highest [profit] margins in the history of margins.”

The economic data have been just surreally good. Even optimists are just stunned. This is a Goldilocks economy.

~ Paul Krugman, former economist

The world don’t need another asshole.

~ @icecube

Superstocks

I was glancing through yet another nauseating article about how stupid I was not to own the stocks that soared with the eagles. It reminds me of the now-classic Hindsight Capital spoof ad.8 Those in the markets during the tech boom will recall that, littered throughout the heaps of garbage with “.com” suffixes hanging off their asses, there were some really solid companies guaranteed to deliver high returns, including the likes of EMC, Enron, WCOM, Sun Microsystems, Tyco, and Global Crossing. Of course, a few years later those generals that survived were littering articles offering ten beaten-down tech stocks for under $10 that will make you fabulously rich over the next decade. Although nobody has a clue what the next ten 100-baggers will be, statistically speaking, some blind nuts will find these squirrels en route to being deified as the greatest investors of the era.

Our industry is full of people who are famous for being right once in a row.

~ Howard Marks

Jesse Felder has been bird-dogging the group called the Magnificent Seven. MSFT, AAPL, NVDA, TSLA, and AMZN are being bought at 65 times aggregate free cash flow, a five-fold expansion since 2012.9 For the mathematically impaired, that is greater than a fivefold expansion that is guaranteed to mean regress because valuation expansions preface valuation contractions. They are at the heart of the most violent market rallies, as short sellers who make the fundamental mistake of shorting “overvaluation” lose their shorts.10 The Mag 7 Index sure looks toppy—double toppy to be more precise—if you’ll forgive my technical jargon.

Derivatives strategist Jitesh notes that the top 10 stocks are carrying 86% of the S&P return.11 The QQQ comprising 100 of the hottest tech stocks sporting a $20 trillion market cap has the Mag 7 representing 54% of the total market cap.12 The Mag 7 enjoyed a 72% gain in first half of 2023.13 Apple crossed the $3 trillion mark only four years after crossing the $1 trillion barrier, pumped by cash-burning share buybacks and unburdened by stagnant cell-phone sales,14 stagnant revenues, and the absence of an innovative new product since Jobs died. Apple’s ginormous cash hoard has now been largely zeroed out by over $100 billion in debt taken on to buy back shares.15

The Nasdaq is brought to you by Nvidia: “We make the chips that drive our overvaluation.”

Nvidia (NVDA) is the poster child of the New Era. I have seen cats chase laser pointers with less enthusiasm. I suspect NVDA and its CEO will be pictured on milk cartons when the next big whoosh lays waste to the indices. Some hang the Ponzi moniker on NVDA owing to massive valuations (50x revenues), shady dealings with Coreweave,16,17 and a CEO with bad press from past shenanigans.18 High Tech Strategist’s Fred Hickey says that tech companies are jumping on the AI bandwagon, prompting them to buy “loads of very expensive NVDA graphics chips and boards all while generalized tech hardware sales were collapsing.” Nvidia began talking about selling new shares to “eager investors”, which makes them the first trillion-dollar meme stock. Nvidia’s 50x revenue price tag dwarfs Sun Microsystem’s 10x revenues that preceded its >95% price collapse.

There’s a huge disconnect between (soaring) stocks and end markets.

~ Fred Hickey (@htsfhickey), The High-Tech Strategist

If you think Silicon Valley knows what it’s doing financially, you really have to rethink things.

~ Jim Chanos, Kynikos

Non-Superstocks. Something about the super stocks clicked. Every boom has elite stocks doing the heavy lifting. While pondering the “super stocks” and how much they would burn as they reentered the Earth’s atmosphere, I realized I was missing a bigger point. There are 490 of the biggest companies in the World—Superschlocks—that produce goods and provide services that collectively do not provide investors with positive returns. I emphasize “collectively” because there are winners, but they are offset by the losers. 41% of the equities in the Russell 2000 are unprofitable.19 Goldman puts half of the equities as negative cash flows (losers):20 “Higher funding costs [viz higher interest rates] could force some of these companies to cut labor costs or even close.” In antiquity (the 20th century) IPOs were postponed until the company demonstrated profitability rather than these “dollar and a dream” scams. Now publicly traded companies can go womb-to-tomb without ever earning a profit.

The huge outperformance in the stocks of the largest US firms will become further entrenched as they outspend on capex and buybacks, while smaller companies defensively build up cash levels. Big is beautiful. That’s been the resounding lesson from stock markets over the years. The biggest stocks have not only outperformed the rest, they have made their performance look like a rounding error.21

~ Simon White, Bloomberg macrostrategist and superstock enthusiast

Much of this is not new. A recent study of 64,000 global equities in the 1990-2020 window found more than half underperform treasuries.22 “The top-performing 2.4% of firms account for all of the $US 75.7 trillion in net global stock market wealth creation from 1990 to December 2020.” (I contest the validity of the term “wealth creation” and would substitute “wealth aggregation.”) They note that “44.8% of the 17,776 U.S. stocks in the present sample outperformed Treasury bills.” This is not a good performance by the non-Superstocks. The authors went on to implicitly kiss the brass ring of indexing as the best way to ensure that you capture the high-sigma Superstocks. The WSJ chimed in by tracing the last 100 years of gains to the top 4% of equities.23 “Less than half of all stocks even generate positive returns over their publicly traded lifetimes, and only 4% of stocks created all the net gains in the U.S. market between 1926 and 2016.” Robert Gordon asserted that wealth creation began to stall in 1970 and flatlined by about 2005, which is important. The market generates revenues without profits (all hat no cattle). An expensive market generates little real profit, especially after fees and taxes.

The lack of net collective profits for 96% of S&P should bug the shit out of you. If you owned 500 gas stations and 490 of them collectively generated no profit, you’d sell the dregs with both hands. The failure of the owners—the investors—to harvest profits from this vast block of companies is a variant of the Cantillon Effect. As the money flows through the grubby paws of the system, those at the end of the line get only a trickle. Inflation benefits the CEOs, C-suitors, lawyers, and others within the machine—the first recipients of the new money—while investors get pathetic dividends and transitory capital gains. I will return to this issue below.

Net worth has tripled since 2000, but the increase mainly reflects valuation gains in real assets, especially real estate, rather than investment in productive assets that drive our economies.24

~ McKinsey & Company

This pattern has repeated itself in the 10 biggest bubbles… Once prices fell by at least 35 percent, they were past the point of no return. The bubble typically bottomed out three years after and 70 percent down from the peak…the long fall in the 10 historic bubbles was interrupted by as many as four echo bubbles — surges of at least 20 percent.25

~ Ruchir Sharma, chair of Rockefeller International

Real Estate. Let’s take a quick peek at real estate. Any Fed Governor worth their paycheck—there are none—will tell you real estate is critical to the Wealth Effect. The Wealth Effect is critical to the 70% consumer economy. A consumer economy is a Potemkin artifice in which we all get rich by consuming rather than producing. Of course, anybody who believes that is a nitwit.

You get in this vicious circle, where higher interest rates cause higher funding costs, cause higher debt issuance, which cause further bond liquidation, which cause higher rates, which put us in an untenable fiscal position.

~ Paul Tudor Jones

The housing market, the stock market, and the bond market, all overpriced at the same time. If the Fed knew what it was doing it would not allow bubbles of this magnitude to take place.

~ Jeremy Grantham

I have been railing for years on how horrid single-family dwellings are for institutional investors. If you want to make money, build rectangular boxes with 500 rental units. Renting McMansions is unprofitable unless you can get capital essentially for free (check), buy the housing on a fire-sale discount (check), and ramp the hell out of the rents (check). According to the New York Times, there were no megabuck “permanent capital” investors in the single-family-rental market pre-2010, but there are now several dozen26 with “hundreds of thousands of single-family homes.” Contemporaneously, low capital costs ushered in a rebirth of Ted Mack’s Amateur Hour in the AirBNB space wherein amateur speculators pulled off the same trick on a more distributed scale.27 The one thing that could destroy these dreams of vast profits is if rates rose sharply (check). With payments on new mortgages almost tripling and school and property taxes rising, the average homeowner-in-training can only pay half the price for a house than two years ago. I do not care if the housing market hasn’t hit the windshield yet; it will. It must. It’s fourth-grade arithmetic.

And for the pivot mongers thinking a Fed pivot will save them, history shows you will be bludgeoned after the pivot, so there is that. The real disaster is if Powell has grown a spine, is done kiting the markets, is no longer just a jaw boner, and is trying to show that he is Paul Volcker not Arthur Burns. Despite his recent display of spinelessness, I remain skeptical of his intentions and suspect I will be putting a “check” mark on that one too after Powell’s dirty sanchez.

The market is acting like a 15-year-old right now and if you want 15-year-olds to behave, you know what you got to do.28

~ Lawrence Lindsey, Former NEC Director

And if that were not bad enough, a quick gander at some TikTok videos showing student-debt-laden youngsters upselling Vente Lattes at Starbucks bitching about becoming the employed homeless. Such ingrates. Those college-educated baristas will not be buying those rapidly depreciating McMansions from the rapidly depreciating boomers. Moreover, they don’t want them. These young socialists-in-training are proud to be lean and green with small carbon footprints. The current metastably low inventory and lack of sales of residential real estate is not a tight market but rather a necrotic market in which potential buyers and sellers are failing to price discover in the marketplace. They will…eventually. Here is how existing home sales are holding up…

The residential markets with relatively long-duration debt may be the minor league. I was on a panel with the smart and lovable Peter Boockvar, and he made a very important point: even if the Fed goes on hold today, the noose will rapidly tighten around corporate and US sovereign debt markets owing to the relatively short debt duration. Trillions of dollars of what are operationally balloon loans are beginning to blow up. The cities are also changing rapidly as quality of life is plummeting as Zoom calls, Smash ‘n’ Grab Loots, and the homeless proliferate. It is no small feat turning office space into condos, but who will be left to rent them? Many suspect that high-rise jingle mail cometh.

Where We Are in the Big Cycle: On the Brink of a Period of Great Disorder.29

~ Ray Dalio

I am not a big Ray Dalio disciple.

~ Stan Druckenmiller

Multi-Decade Bull Market: 40 Years of Recency Bias

Enough of this near-term malarkey. As noted, I am not interested in this year’s favorite war, detonating asset class, Fed policy change, yield curve inversion, trendline smackage, or disappearing market breadth beyond their entertainment value. I need to know if I will be OK in 2030 and still liquid in 2040 to fund my retirement with no fossil fuels, eating bugs, and still not flying in air cars. The financial asset markets are in desperate need of a correction. Let me rephrase that: those of us who doggedly resist buying bullshit assets at ridiculous prices are desperate for a correction. This is not a short-term view. A deep, protracted correction is a certainty, in my opinion.

The spirit of the times is ‘Don’t worry about the markets crashing. They will come back up and set new highs.

~ Robert Shiller (@RobertJShiller)

What is a Correction?

A correction must…

  • substantially drive prices Earthward, and
  • inflict a serious beating on investors’ attitudes.

By my reckoning, our last good ol’-fashioned correction ended in 1981. From 1967–81, capital gains on equities were down 75% inflation-adjusted. The real price change was bad, but the 14 years burned off the clock—a third of an investor’s lifetime in speculative assets—was oppressive. The markets had been ravaged. Equity desks were littered with half-finished games of solitaire. You could not give equities away in 1981. Investors had been ground to dust. Attitudes had been adjusted. What followed, however, were four decades that began as investors quietly shimmied their way up the greasy pole of risk and culminated 40 years later with their willingness to buy every sack of unprofitable garbage on every dip. It was the Era of the V-bounce. Investors learned one immutable lesson: never sell because stocks always go up in the long run. Four decades of recency bias left an entire generation in a trance.

Extended bear markets are more likely to prevent investors from meeting their long-term wealth goals than short crashes.1

~ Cliff Asness (@CliffordAsness), AQR Capital Management

40 Years of Recency Bias. The problem starts with the 1987 blip—call it a crash if you wish—that scared investors but was the blink of an eye. In two years, frightened investors were made whole by bold interventions from a free-market libertarian Fed Chair. The 1991 recession-equity dip combo platter was even shorter. The South American currency crisis—the Tequilla Crisis—was solved almost seamlessly by giving multi-national banks $50 billion because they lent too much money to banana republics. The swan dive owing to the Asian flu in 1998 took five months from peak through the Valley of Death to full recovery. The Tech Wreck of 2000 took 7 years to full recovery in nominal dollars but the drop was swift, the markets didn’t plumb historical fair value (see below), the recovery was monotonic (soothing), and the economy escaped unscathed. Investors were dazed but unphased, chanting “I am a long-term buy-and-hold investor! I’m in it for the long run!” with fist-pumping to boot (ironically after getting fisted).

They keep getting these storms and call them perfect storms. I’m thinking these are regular storms and we have a shitty boat.2

~ Peter St. Onge (@profstonge), Heritage Foundation

I can hear y’all squealing, “GTFO! Are you telling me 2008–09 wasn’t a correction?” Yes, I am telling you precisely that. The 2008–09 drop neither corrected the imbalances nor broke the speculative fever. Markets hurdled earthward but were stopped out by a $30 trillion central-bank bailout of multi-national banks, with Bernanke playing the role of Neville Chamberlain by appeasing the banks to assure “prosperity and peace in our time.” It’s not likely to work this time either. Equities had a one-night stand with historic fair value—a month or two—before lifting off yet again. We were assured yet again in the aftermath that it pays to just to hang on for dear life, and it did. Investors dusted themselves off and, yet again, began buying the dips. In the four-decade Era of the V-Bounce every dip was bought with relentless liquidity and monetary comb-overs, and every buyer was rewarded. For all of 2020 the entire global economy was prostrate in an induced coma—all consumption, zero wealth creation—yet the S&P closed the year up 13%. That is psychotic. Nothing can stop these markets. Stein’s Law was revised: what has gone up will go up forever…or at least for four decades.

The Cubans, the Kevin O’Learys, the Scaramuccis, the Ackmans – the whole Silicon Valley Crew – these guys all need their clock cleaned in a major way, because they were just bull market, cheap-money players.

~ Marc Cohodes

To understand how a forty-year secular bull market is just a phase, not a clear illustration that equities are always the place to be, let us first look at the tailwinds that were unique to the greatest equity run in US history.

I don’t expect we see a new high in the market for a long time. We’ve had very bad policy mix and part of the stress this year has been very stimulative to fiscal policy, restrictive to monetary policy.

~ Leon Cooperman

Tailwind 1: Soviet Union. The Russians had not collapsed but they were rotting from the head and sold vast natural resources to the West in desperation to obtain capital, resources that would fuel the boom for the next four decades.

China became the world’s workshop, and the USA became the world’s financial bucket shop.

~ Jim Kunstler

Tailwind 2: China. Deng Xiaoping began taking baby steps to take Mao’s 100-year-plan3 to level two by opening China to the West and fostering fledgling free-market principles. I recall the rumors that workers were being allowed to keep some of the products of their labor. When Deng flew to New York to his debutante ball at the United Nations in 1974 their foreign reserves were so flatlined they needed to pass the wok for the plane fare. Deng’s plan to join the 20th century desperately needed capital and all they had to sell was labor, which they did in great quantity and at slave wages for the next four decades. In the early 80s, they began sending hand-selected students to get their PhDs in the West. Cornell Chemistry received six of them. Many did not return, but the Chinese authorities knew that integrating with the West economically would be accelerated by academic and intellectual integration in the West. Sounds benign; it may not be. Over the next forty years, they vendor-financed our purchases of very cheap goods and services.

Tailwind 3: Demographics. The boomers had begun entering the workforce in vast numbers, ready to trade in their bongs for calculators and communes for McMansions and meaningful lives. And for the first time ever, they brought their wives with them. As economists worth their paychecks know—a dozen at last count—a demographically young and growing workforce is a huge driver of economic growth.4 A quick gander at the labor force participation rate, however, shows that this was an extension of an uptrend starting two decades earlier and then rolled over quietly with the millenium.

Tailwind 4: Long-term interest rates. If you’ve read Warren Buffett’s iconic 1999 Fortune article as many times as I have,5 you could not possibly miss the punchline: sustainable changes in interest rates are the only variable that matters. When rates are in a long-term uptrend, you get ravaged by your financial assets. When rates are in a long-term downtrend, financial assets party like it’s 1999. Long-term rates began a four-decade march from over 15% to essentially 0%. (The Eurowankers dropped acid and took them negative.) Following an initial drop, it was almost as though somebody programmed the four-decade downtrend into an algorithm. It was a lactating cow. The rates dropped on the heels of forty years of disinflation (juiced by progressively fabricated inflation numbers).

Tailwind 5: Government spending. Any economist really worth their paycheck—a very rarified group—knows that government spending can be a panacea for many years especially if you get to print the currency your debt is denominated in. Eventually, however, this reserve currency privilege hits Triffin’s Dilemma, which, loosely translated, says that being the global reserve currency and the affiliated trade imbalance is an orgy that ends when the stimulus doesn’t raise a pulse. It is a suicide mission in the long term. Well, we have been blowing our wads. (I just realized my mother used to refer to “blowing your wad.” Eewe.) US Sovereign debt scaled to GDP—a natural inflation correction provided they don’t cheese those numbers too much—more than tripled (not including unimaginable unfunded liabilities).6 All forms of private and corporate debt rose like a Phoenix but are starting to look Icarus like.

Tailwind 6: Domestic politics. Over the last four decades domestic politics have been remarkably tame. We went from violent anti-war and civil rights movements to Black Friday at Walmart. The race problems gave way to progress toward equal opportunity with women and blacks in every imaginable position of leadership.

Tailwind 7: Geopolitics. Geopolitics were also quite tame with an asterisk. The peace dividend hailed as the benefits of beating the commies proved illusory as we found more boogie men to battle at great profit for some, but nobody seemed to care. If you were one of the 4.5 million who died since 911 as a direct or indirect consequence of the War Machine life was brief while survivors were left in living hells. However, there is a silver lining: the US’s ability to project military force anywhere in the world supported global trade networks.7

Tailwind 8: Share buybacks. Peter Lynch ranted about the merits of share buybacks as evidence that the corporate insiders knew the company shares were underpriced. Well, that is a quaint idea whose time has long passed. When tax laws on executive income ushered in stock options as compensation, insiders recognized that dividends decreased the value of their options whereas share buybacks increased them. Buybacks also mopped up the excessive shares created by the stock options. Dividends to shareholders dropped to a record low of 1.5% while option holders won. Returning capital to investors was a ruse, in my opinion. I proffered an alternative benign thesis that maintaining fortress balance sheets returning 0% returns in the fixed income markets made no sense. Buying overpriced shares was a desperate reach for yield (if those shares were worth anything.) That mutated to, “Let’s borrow money at no cost to buy shares. What could go wrong?” Shareholders liked the capital gains and were untroubled by the gobs of debt in the low-rate environment. Others suggest that buybacks are a way to repatriate overseas profits,8 an argument that may have substance. That argument has been stretched to claim that “valuation metrics mean little.”9 I am unsympathetic to that triumph of imagination.

There are ugly anecdotes about huge share buybacks preceding bankruptcy (Bed Bath and Beyond by example),10 burning huge piles of cash (Apple),11 and unprecedentedly low levels of capital expenditures to fund share buybacks. Flat inflation-adjusted wages for 40 years kept expenses low and the Fed at bay. As the market boomed, contributions to defined-benefit pension plans also dropped off precipitously because one need not save when the market does the heavy lifting for you.

Wall Street is not really about investing. It’s about asset gathering…Indexes don’t just come about because they’re good investments, they come about because it’s an opportunity for a management company to gather assets.

~ Steve Bregman, Horizon Kinetics

What if Adam Smith was here and we explained…indexation and stuff and how capital is allocated? He would say to us, “And what do you call this?” And we’d say, “We call it capitalism.” He’d burst out laughing because it’s the inverse of capitalism to say we give more capital to the companies with the largest market capitalization.

~ Russell Napier

Tailwind 9: Indexing. Michael Green seems to get the most credit for underscoring the importance of the tsunami of dumb money flowing into index funds as a driver of the share price. The problem is that there is no price sensitivity whatsoever. There is no adult supervision, just millions of investors plowing money into the markets. (I once got Bogle to concede this weakness.) Moreover, the market cap-weighted allocations dropping the most money into the largest companies—the Magnificent Seven—while leaving little for the smallest companies poses a problem. It’s like you had a grocery list in which a rising price of cantaloupes and ribeye prompted you to buy more cantaloupes and ribeye. I am not sure exactly what will bring indexing out of favor, but something will. Good ideas cease to work once they are deemed to be good ideas.

 

*Forgive the chart crime of starting the plot at a non-zero origin. It’s a rookie error.

It would be dangerous to extrapolate the post-1990 outperformance of US equities, as it mainly reflects rising relative valuations.13

~ Cliff Asness

Tailwind 10: Valuation expansion. In 1981 equities were left for dead, sitting at an unbelievable price-to-earnings ratio of 6. For the arithmetically challenged, that means half the market had a p/e ratio below 6. Stocks were scary, but that made them dirt cheap. Maybe if the other factors mauling the markets for the previous 14 years stayed in place they would have stayed cheap, but history shows the seeds of a legendary run had been sown.

Nothing has been cleansed. The monetary excess is still in the system. Valuations are still sky-high. In fact, they got brutally more expensive.

~ Sven Henrich (@NorthmanTrader)

Driven by these extraordinary tailwinds, we come to the last and most spectacular statistic of them all: equity valuations—not price but valuations—compounded at over 3% per annum for four decades. Let me say that again for the impaired:

Equity valuations compounded 3% per annum for four decades.

And for the really impaired:

Once you control for this tripling of relative valuations [since 1990], the 4.6% return advantage falls to a statistically insignificant 1.2%… So, what does it mean that almost all the US’s victory came from repricing?14

~ Cliff Asness

Case for a Multi-Decade Bear Market

What happens when those tailwinds leading to 3% growth in valuations for four decades becomes a –3% headwind for the next four decades? Oh that wouldn’t happen, right? Don’t be silly. Of course it will happen. Everything is cyclical. Just ask Ray Dalio or anybody else with an eye for history. Low valuations give way to high valuations. It is now time for high valuations to give way to low valuations. It’s the great cycle of life.

If you’re first out the door, that’s not called panicking.

~ John Tuld

Let’s take stock of where we find ourselves in the Year of Our Lord 2023. Of course, the next 40 years will look nothing like the last 40 years. The last time back-to-back forty-year periods showed unremarkable change was in the Middle Ages. But we can try to imagine how markets may perform and why.

The existing world order is changing rapidly in challenging ways and that people who are living on the assumption that things will work in the orderly ways that they have gotten used to will be shocked and hurt by these changes to come.1

~ Ray Dalio

Headwind 1: Geopolitics. We have royally scorched this one. We completely squandered the peace dividend offered to us when the Soviet Union collapsed. The industrial-military complex simply could not resist the serious profits bombing the piss out of many countries, especially when they create the opportunities. We pissed away the privilege of having the reserve currency by weaponizing the dollar. When we turned the dollar and the banking system against Russia in a fight that was none of our business, we sent the World a clear message: you cannot trust the United States. If your banker said you would get your money back provided you don’t piss them off, you would get a new banker. The great resources of Russia had become so appealing to NATO (read: the US) that we could not resist trying to steal them via a costly war in Ukraine that we have undeniably lost contrary to (a) the media’s boisterous propaganda, followed by (b) their deafening silence. I update my views on Ukraine below. Commodities are fungible: if Russia sells them to our economic competitors, that leaves more for us from the other suppliers. Somehow, however, that seems like a losing strategy for us.

The illegitimate freezing of some of the currency reserves of the Bank of Russia marks the end of the reliability of so-called first-class assets…Now everybody knows that financial reserves can simply be stolen.

~ Vladimir Putin

New regimes to defy the weaponized dollar are being created as I type. The BRICs—the loose conglomeration of countries including Brazil, Russia, India, and China—now have almost two dozen countries trying to join that fraternity including OPEC nations. Those who cackle at a BRICs currency becoming a threat are missing the point: we are witnessing abrupt and massive shifts of global alliances to circumvent the US, the dollar, and the Western banking system. Our ties with OPEC were fraying at the edges before the most recent crisis in the Middle East popped up. Fareed Zakaria showed a special moment of clarity when he grasped this:2

If the US dollar’s global supremacy erodes, America will face a reckoning like none before.

~ Fareed Zakaria

China has its own issues, but they are an economic juggernaut that will patiently wait for their turn behind the wheel. We thought their emergence as an economic powerhouse would make them look like us. It seems that the reverse is happening. I don’t think they will take Taiwan, at least in the military sense. Why would they? We could take Canada too, but we won’t. Taiwan is a huge trading partner, and China is patiently on track to complete Mao’s Hundred-Year Plan.3 I cannot recall any of our leaders’ Hundred-Year Plans.

China is no longer focusing on making basic parts (much the way post-war Japan did) but is moving to high-value-added products. India might pick up some slack as a low-cost producer, but it seems wishful to presume those goods and services will come cheap. Those who look to Africa for the next great untapped region need to bone up on Hernando de Soto’s analyses,4 which focus on why Africa is geographically (geologically) and politically ill-suited for development.

The problem was not people but the law, which was discouraging and preventing people from being more productive.

~ Hernando de Soto, The Mystery of Capital: Why Capitalism Triumphs in the West and Fails Everywhere Else

Our exploits in the Middle East that extinguished an estimated $7 trillion and 4.5 million Middle Easterner lives are not good optics. (OK. Let’s call it mass murder or genocide if you insist.) Afghanistan ended with one of the great military embarassments, even if it was, according to my 2021 assertion,5 an intentionally botched third-trimester withdrawal of the troops. Ukraine will look even more absurd as we realize that 500,000 dead Ukrainians died for nothing.6

Something very dramatic has changed in politics in America.

~ Matt Taibbi

Headwind 2: Domestic Politics. I don’t believe it is hyperbolic to say we are witnessing a dramatic rise in neo-Marxism that finds its roots in the radical ‘60s. (See Chris Rufo’s America’s Cultural Revolution: How the Radical Left Conquered Everything in Books below.) The future is dark as one ponders the push toward trans-genderism, social justice fundamentalism, climate extremism, social strife tied to the Israel-Palestine conflict that could turn violent, and collapsing trust in institutions and credential experts. Perhaps this is just a phase that will fade into distant memories a few years from now—let us hope—but one cannot rule out Fourth Turning-level upheavals.

 

Headwind 3: Demographics. Peter Zeihan is an acquired taste and has serious neocon roots, but his numbers and discussions of global demographics are compelling. Recall that the Club of Rome was squealing about how a failure to achieve zero population growth (ZPG) of 2.2 children per household would cause the Earth to rotate off its axis. Well, we are currently at 1.6 babies per household and on the downslope. If demographics are important, the demographic reversal will have to ride on the back of a generation that is broke, green, less interested in having sex, and confused about their genders. Bear in mind that the 1% annualized growth of the population grew the economy and the numbers consuming that investment pie; investment gains and economic data should be corrected to per-capita. Few do this.

We should be happier to have a job than to have our savings protected.

~ Christine Lagarde, October 2019

Headwind 4: Interest Rates and Inflation. It is said that the fixed-income guys have all the brains. It is clear Krugman was at the end of the line, but how could he possibly think that excluding everything consumers need leads to a valid inflation metric? Many, like James Grant, tell us that credit cycles are long wavelengths and take years to convince the market participants that the worm has turned. It feels like the four-decade downturn in interest rates may have turned. Inflation may have dug in like a tic. De-dollarization, government spending, runaway debt payments, and the rapidly shifting global alliances could be foreshadowing decades of climbing the Rate Wall of Worry. Wealth disparities have given rise to long-overdue union activity and higher wages, which cuts into corporate profit margins and shows up as inflation at the Fed. Ironically, this will prompt the Fed to step on the economy. Meanwhile, consumers of US debt are dropping like BRICs. Those who flippantly allude to “debt monetization” and “financial repression” as some sort of panacea have never been on the receiving end of those. As interest rates rise, share buybacks will disappear. The urge to remove cash from their balance sheets earning credible returns will dissipate, and the madness of borrowing money to buy back shares will become extinct.

Inflation is the worst thing an economy can have, and I think people underrate that. Every hegemony has been destroyed by inflation.7

~ Carl Icahn

The world’s superpower central bank has made such a mess of affairs that it has to pick between two poisons: it capitulates on inflation; or it lets a banking crisis reach systemic proportions. It has chosen a banking crisis.

~ Ambrose Evans-Pritchard

Summers and others see a ‘70s repeat with more inflationary storms to make landfall.

Average folks on the street are not sanguine. I asked Jimmy Iourio what the inflation rate is given the cost of goods at his Italian restaurant. (It is pronounced I-talian.) His answer: 40% over two years.

Here is a favorite question of mine in the form of a poll. After the waffling subsides, the answer is always double digits…

Of course, there may be other sources of inflation besides the debt markets and Federal Reserve. The whiz kids at CNBC found the perfect scapegoat, the generation with no cash to spend…

Then there are the scriptwriters for Biden’s Twitter feed who, to add some realism, make him appear to be completely demented…

Headwind 5: Government spending. Does anybody see any mechanism that will stop the perverts inside the Beltway from spending money we don’t have on things we really don’t need? (Part 3 amplifies on that pervert allusion.) The total lack of leadership or even basic lack of morality inside the Beltway feels like end-of-empire shit to me. Maybe the long (often multi-decade) credit cycle hasn’t turned, but cranking out 10% per annum of sovereign debt is not going to be extinguished by 10% growth in GDP. Maybe Triffin was full of shit, but we are testing his hypothesis by spending like an end-of-empire hegemon. Our leadership is more Nero-Caligula than Julius-Augustus. The next and final stage of the US Empire—whether you read Neil Howe’s Fourth Turning or Ray Dalio’s Principles for Dealing with the Changing World Order: Why Nations Succeed or Fail (see Books)—is the cathartic phase, which is code for violent and deadly.

Headwind 6: Valuation Contraction. Nobody talks about market valuations except those trying to give you a toaster oven to open an account at their brokerage. Valuations are, however, a curiously useful metric. I track about two dozen last laid out in lurid detail in 2021.8 I won’t repeat that analysis in its entirety because nothing has changed. Here is the Reader’s Digest version in which I insert a couple of cute ideas while pretending not to recycle the rest.

Financialization is profit growth without labor productivity growth.

~ Ben Hunt

All valuation metrics share a common trait: they represent the price of assets (often equities) divided by something they should track. They are inherently inflation correcting, which means they should simply flop around a historic mean but, over enough time, remain unchanged. High valuations give way to low valuations which give way to high valuations, and this has gone on for millennia.

Stupidity got us into this. Why can’t stupidity get us out?

~ Will Rogers

All metrics pretty much lead to the same conclusion, which I illustrate with the Case Shiller PE. In the first graphic, we see the Case-Shiller p/e from 1880 to 1994:

That flopping around the mean part is self-evident. Now that I have anchored your thinking with the bias of a historic fair value and illustrated regression to and through the mean, let’s tack on the last 3 decades in the following chart…

Now do you see the problem? I also overtly placed the break at 1994 because of an observation made in my previous analysis that 1994 is the year all market valuations, while high, left orbit.9 If you find some new-fangled valuation metric that doesn’t go back to 1880, just find the valuation in 1994, assume it represents 50% above historic value, and compare it with today. As to why 1994 is some special moment is unclear. Maybe that year’s bond bailout never subsided. Mike Green says that 1994 coincides with the arrival of a tsunami of dumb money coming into the markets in the form of price-insensitive market indexing. The latter two decades of this wonderous four decades witnessed debt-fueled share buybacks. To complete the round trip back to the trough of 1981 represents an 88% correction. What is an 88% correction? It’s a 75% correction that then cuts in half. So much for everybody’s nest egg.

The S&P 500 has soared nearly fivefold in one decade to multiples of earnings, sales, book value—take your pick—we have only seen twice in recent history….the equity market no longer seems to trade off the economic fundamentals…the market has rallied completely on the back of multiple expansion… The ratio of corporate debt-to-GDP is at all-time highs….An enormous volume of corporate debt has been issued exclusively for the purpose of buying and retiring shares. This includes both buybacks and acquisitions of other companies. And in classic mature-cycle fashion.

~ David Rosenberg

Let’s look at two more valuation metrics for fun. The logic that the market value of the nation’s 500 largest companies should reflect the nation’s GDP seems almost immutable. See that trend line? Would you have drawn that line if I had clipped the plot at 1994? Those who draw it have a tough row to hoe (road to ‘ho) justifying why the uptrend is sustainable.

Here is price to sales (which I infer is synonymous with price to revenue). Since it doesn’t go back to 1981 to assess the peak-to-trough potential pain just look at 1994 and assume that it is 50% over historical fair value. The claim that it is the “highest in 10 years” is also a little odd.

Here is an entertaining one: the hours required to work to buy the S&P. This may be the question of a simpleton, but why has the S&P become so expensive to buy in terms of man-hours of labor if the digital world is so efficient? Note that the historic average looks like a market top in any other era except the last 30 years. Even so, a return to that optimistic target valuation would be a 75% correction.

This Hussman valuation corrected for mean-regressing bloated profit margins (justified by others as the wonders of the efficiency noted above) is at the apex of the Pyramid of Doom.

Here we sit with valuations in the nosebleed range of 120-150% above the historic mean. Investors are implicitly assuming that (a) valuations will not mean revert because regression to the mean is no longer a force of nature, or (b) they will be smart enough to get out at the top. Such assumptions are hallmarks of an unstable personality. On the off-chance I might be right, you might want to read up on gibbeting…10

I intentionally use the phrase “run-of-the-mill” to describe potential market losses of –30%, –55%, and –60%, because none of these estimates can be considered ‘worst case scenarios.’11

~ John Hussman

Lowered Expectations. Avid readers with good memories may notice I am about to go green by recycling a couple of graphics. I showed the first graphic depicting markets in the first forty years of the 20th century to a mucky muck at The Economist, and he had not appreciated how that nasty little two-decade boom-bust cycle only interrupted a trend in which investors clawed their way up the Wall of Worry at a 1.3% annualized capital gains over four decades. There were dividends—way more than today—but there were also taxes and fees. That was four decades that Northwestern’s Robert Gordon considers one of the most productive for inventions of labor saving devices.12 If you had invested throughout the Industrial Revolution your equities and bonds would have contributed to your aggregated personal wealth comparably despite Jeremy Siegel’s claims to the contrary.13,14

I created the following idealized graphic (using ChemDraw!) to illustrate that if the GDP grows 2% annualized (blue curve) and over four decades equities rise approximately 150% above fair value (red curve). I serve up four scenarios to return to fair value: (a) drop straight down by 60%, which will create Bald Britney-levels of volatility but won’t correct anything as dip buyers armed with 40 years of recency bias will come in like a flash mob to create a V-bounce yet again, (b) drop 20% over 25 years, (c) tread water for 35 years, or (d) scratch out a 30% gain over 50 years (0.5% annualized). Pick your poison for the meanest of reversions and hope that we don’t correct below historical fair value because then the story darkens markedly.

U.S. GDP grows about 2% per year on average

~ Howard Marks

Are these curves even remotely realistic? In a word, yes. Here are more ChemDraw arrows superimposed on a graphic by Ron Greiss of the Chart Store showing the inflation-adjusted (reconstructed) S&P 500 beginning in 1870. I am relatively uninterested in how long it takes investors at a market peak to fight their way through the Valley of Death to finally break even, which is usually a decade or two. (Nikkei investors should be so lucky.) The key question is when did that previous market top get tested for the last time? How long must investors tread water to get from the peak to the safety of the final trough? Those are the blue arrows, and they are 40–75 years long. Is Investor Americanus emotionally and financially ready to withstand a 40–75 year ice age?

And just to bring one last bit of joy to the story, I bring to you another Ron Greiss creation. Instead of using bullshit CPI numbers, Ron corrects for inflation using the M2 money supply.

Seems like a pretty clean correction if you are a Friedmanite. The markets were dirt cheap in 1945 and again in 1981. But nagging questions should take your breath away: is it possible that 150 years of capital gains in the equity markets are 100% inflation and that the real investment returns are 100% traceable to dividends? Does it trouble you that dividends dropped from 6.5% to a century low of 1.5%?15 How will 1.5% hold up against fees and taxes?

US equity investor circa 2064 AD unearthed by market archeologists centuries from now…

 

The U.S. economy is obviously performing exceptionally well with continued solid job creation, inflation gradually moving down, robust consumer spending. I’m not anticipating a downturn in the economy.

~ Janet Yellen, June 2023

You can never trust predictions about the future from people who deny the present.

~ Alex Epstein

It may be time for Yellen to return to the Shire. The pain is not over when you squat over the secular bear trap, and it clamps you in the groin. Just wait until you hit the end of the chain. It will feel like a Tarantino finale: sketchy historical precedent but lots of blood and guts.

Media

The Central Intelligence Agency owns everyone of any significance in the major media.

~ William Colby, Former CIA Director

The CIA is the world’s biggest sponsor of “journalism”.1

~ Robert F. Kennedy Jr.

The mass media is largely worthless now—stenographers to power. When the great journalists—Seymour Hersh, Matt Taibbi, and Glenn Greenwald—are publishing on Substack, it is time to refocus from the New York Times to Substack and other alternative media. Facebook, a former conduit of news stories, has been busted rigging the news in ways that would make the Rooskies cringe. Biden’s laptop? Nope. Can’t post that. Anti-vaccine stories. Nope. YouTube used to post videos made by you. If there is hot footage, searching will afford corporate news stories about the hot footage. I also used to find great interviews simply by going to YouTube’s home page: they had figured out my tastes. Now it appears to be competing with TikTok. Taibbi refers to all this as the “information cartel.”

Facebook’s President of Global Affairs: Can someone quickly remind me why we were removing—rather than demoting/labeling—claims that Covid is man-made?

Facebook’s vice president in charge of content policy: We were under pressure from the administration and others to do more. We shouldn’t have done it.2

Censorship is not just about authoritarian control; it is also about taking out your competitor. It is a big industry.3 It is about rewriting history.4 I’ve written about the fundamental rights granted to the media by the Constitution and its fundamental role in a functioning democracy. I prattled on about the disintegration of the media standards, which I place first on the list of symptoms of a collapsing empire. (Number two is the weaponization of the Department of Justice.) I am unsure how the mainstream media retrieve their credibility any more than prostitutes can regain their virginity. The deed is done. I was probably living in a delusional world my whole life. They were probably never free of the gravitational pull of wealth and power, but it went wild when the internet appeared, and the scramble for dominance and control began.

Disturbing Poll Reveals 26% Of Americans Still Trust The Media

~ The Babylon Bee Headline

The Firing of Tucker Carlson. At one time I detested the bow-tied Tucker Carlson, but he found his voice, I became more tolerant of his idiosyncrasies, and maybe I have developed my own. Unlike his less thoughtful brethren at Fox, he reaches across the aisle to debate those holding the opposing view. I’ve wondered out loud, however, if he is what is called a “limited hangout” or “controlled opposition”, in which his role is to make those on the right perceive they have an advocate. Some have questioned possible Deep-State ties.5 Nevertheless, he was Fox’s biggest draw, and they slaughtered the sacred cash cow: why? The simple answer may be the correct one: profits are secondary to guiding the preferred narrative to its destination.

This moment is too inherently ridiculous to continue, so it won’t.

~ Tucker Carlson, rephrasing Stein’s Law two days after being fired

In the months preceding his departure, Tucker recklessly touched third rails with sensitive body parts. These incidents included:

  • He called out the CIA for whacking JFK6,7 and even took on MKUltra for putting a mind meld on Jack Ruby to whack Oswald.8 He claimed that a witness to the remaining Warren Report under lock-and-key confirmed the CIA’s role.9 Tucker called the botched Watergate break-in a psyop (psychological operation) designed to take down Nixon with the help of CIA asset Bob Woodward.10 Calling ex-CIA head Brennan “one of the most sinister and dishonest figures in American life” while tarring Pompeo with a similar brush.11 seemed like he was taunting the Deep State for Schumer’s “six ways from Sunday” response.
  • His open disdain for the Covid and vaccine narrative12,13,14 must have pissed off Pfizer, which has rained pain and retribution on those who challenge this kingpin of the biomedical crime syndicate.
  • Relentlessly bucking the Ukraine War narrative15,16 is pissing on the legs of the industrial-military and banking-military complexes simultaneously. Wailing on ESG is to undermine one of the bigger scams of Blackrock, who happen to be a 15% owner of Fox.17
  • Joining the 9/11 Truth Movement and questioning the collapse of Building 718 is most definitely not cooperating with Operation Mockingbird, the CIA’s program to control access of all public media.19 (I am a full-blown Truther myself.20 The official 9/11 narrative fails at many levels.21,22,23)
  • Challenging the January 6th narrative undermines the efforts of both parties to block The Donald from re-entering the Halls of Power. That Speaker MacCarthy handed Tucker 14,000 hours24 (or is it 41,000 hours25?) of the January 6th tapes was handing Tucker a weapon to self-destruct. Tucker released only a few minutes, which proved enough to get the most legendary protester, QAnon Shaman, sprung from a four-year prison term. This, in turn, foreshadowed how the tapes would reveal the J6 trials to be treasonous by depriving victims of their Constitutional rights. Those videos remain largely inaccessible despite (or perhaps because of) their profound importance to fair trials for the accused. With gritted teeth, I hammered the weaponization of the DOJ following J6 in my 2020 YIR.26 Staffing the courts with defacto brownshirts is what rising authoritarian states do, which I return to in Part 3.
  • Days before getting fired, Tucker expressed disdain for the media. His biggest regret was supporting the Iraq War.27

Tucker seemed to be on the cusp of blowing up the J6 stories with all those tapes and a soon-to-be-buried interview of the chief of the Capitol Police describing the role of Federal agents in the crowd whipping up trouble: “Oh yeah, yeah, yeah, that crowd was filled with federal agents”.28 That Tucker was bearing down on the J6 psyop may have had the authoritarians on edge. I will be returning to J6 in Part 3. As articulated by Glenn Greenwald, both parties needed Tucker’s career in journalism summarily executed.29 They tried a few lurid accusations of Tucker’s bad behavior in the workplace,30 but released audio tapes revealed a B+ potty mouth.

Atrocities like, “I can never assess my appearance. I wait for my postmenopausal fans to weigh in on that” aren’t exactly a “grab the pussy” moment. Whistleblower Abby Grossberg claimed that employees were bullied and subjected to sexist comments, but her lawyer later confessed that she never met Tucker.31 CNN tried to undermine his credibility, but it came off as a compendium of their lies.32 The FBI and DOJ tried to reconstruct Federal agent Ray Epps’ story so he could sue Tucker,33 but Ray’s role as an embedded instigator at J6 got so embarrassing that the authorities had to fake indicting him on trivial charges.34 Ray will not be put in solitary confinement, tortured, go years without a trial, or get a ginormous jail sentence because Ray is a Fed. Attorneys General Merrick Garland denies this,35 but he is diabolical and morally bankrupt.

Tucker has been nearly alone in smoking out the big issues of our time with a unique breadth, edge and consistency that neither Republican shills like Sean Hannity nor DNC conduits like Anderson Cooper and Rachel Maddow could hope to approach.36

~ David Stockman

An ex-Army psyop expert suggested that Tucker needed to go to maintain an “uninformed semi-lobotomized quasi retarded population.”37 It’s catchy and simple but may miss the point that historically important events in the planning stages might have made gagging Tucker imperative.

Along comes a $1.7 billion-dollar Alex-Jones-scale defamation lawsuit against Fox News by Dominion (Smartmatic), the maker of the voting machines used to ensure that the 2020 election was the cleanest election in history…or something like that. The CEO of Dominion was ostensibly run by a Biden transition team member, but Dominion’s real owner traces through a series of shell companies to Beijing.39 (It was later reported by a Georgia district court that Dominion’s machines do indeed suck.40) In any previous era, Fox would have been in the Supreme Court squealing about Constitutional protections of the press, and the Dominion suit would have gone away. In this case, however, Fox settled out-of-court for $787 million without a whimper.41 The (in)famous Alan Dershowitz said the Dominion-Fox settlement made no sense and that he hadn’t seen anything like that in 60 years.42 Even a neophyte knew something was up noting the convenience of the lawsuit the day Tucker got fired.

I wandered over to Yahoo Finance to find out what the huge win did to Dominion’s share price only to find that they had been taken private in 2018. Nice way to hide the details of the 2020 election behind a paywall. Dominion’s annual revenues were $17–18 million along with some redacted parts that always make me suspicious.43,44 The absurdity is that $787 million represents 45 times revenue, which means the settlement for damages was ten times the value of the company. That’s a lot of damages.

To Democrats, “journalist” means “one who mindlessly and loyally endorses DNC talking points.”

~ Glenn Greenwald

Here is my take: Fox needed a big headline to justify firing Tucker, and Dominion needed him gagged to pull off a 2024 election fraud. I suspect no money changed hands. The headline was the story.

Of all the distortions and paranoia that Tucker Carlson promoted on his since-canceled Fox News program, one looms large: a conspiracy theory that an Arizona man working as a covert government agent incited the Jan. 6, 2021, assault on the Capitol to sabotage and discredit former President Donald J. Trump and his political movement. What’s known about the man—a two-time Trump voter named Ray Epps—is that he took part in demonstrations in Washington that day and the night before.45

~ New York Times, lying their worthless asses off

Tucker was soon marinating in new opportunities including a $25 million offer from One America News46 and $100 million five-year deal with Valuetainments.47 I’m not a lawyer, but I suspect that Fox kept Tucker on his $25 million annualized pay to retain a non-compete clause. But Tucker, not needing even more money, took his road show to Elon Musk’s Twitter for free and crushed it. By firing Tucker, Fox unleashed the Kraken. NBC host Tom Costello, whimpering like a little bitch lapdog, suggested that it was bad that nobody will be able to “police him” as he spread “misinformation, disinformation, all out lies” on Elon Musk’s Twitter.

No Tom: that’s NBC’s job.48 Social media network Tribel banned Carlson claiming he is “a proven liar, racist, and insurrectionist who spreads Russian propaganda that threatens our democracy. Banning him is necessary to protect our users.”49 This was devastating news to the 100 people who post on Tribel. FOX sent Tucker a cease-and-desist order, but, in the absence of payment, his 80-million-click truth bombs on Twitter merely constitute free speech.50 Tucker fought the Balrog and won.

AOC…demanded the Government ban Tucker from being allowed on TV. Dems like AOC are utter authoritarians who crave state censorship. Independent platforms are immune from that.

~ Glen Greenwald the day Carlson got the boot

Nuggets. After diplomatic correspondent’ Michael Crowley published a fabrication-rich hit piece on Snowden that was called out by Glenn Greenwald, the New York Times quietly started editing the record without so much as an apology.51 Veterans say if you go back and read the primary articles in the media on important events of yore, you find that we rewrote history going forward.52,53 In the new era, the media writes their variant of history while the real variant is being made. Historians in the future will never figure out what actually happened.

Here are a few random media nuggets that caught my eye and strengthened my support of free speech and unlimited vaccines for Big-Media journalists until we get a desirable effect:

  • Pfizer is said to have bribed CNN with $12 million annually to keep Anderson Cooper on the vaccine narrative, which is a two-year nightmare of journalistic fraud.54 The claim is that there is a direct pipeline of 80% of Cooper’s salary from Pfizer. Since 75% of mainstream media’s ad revenue comes from pharma,55 this is about the right number with or without the direct pipeline.
  • Don Lemon of CNN proclaimed that, “Nikki Haley isn’t in her prime, sorry. A woman is considered to be in her prime in her 20s and 30s and maybe 40s.”56 That is only true if your goal is to bang her lights out, Don. CNN realized they had squeezed everything they could out of that Lemon, demoting him to buck private.
  • It is sobering to watch this montage of Nicole Wallace getting hammered for relentless lying given that, on casual inspection, she has a credible aura provided you have the TV on mute.57
  • Project Veritas and its founder James O’Keefe are infamous for sending hot throbbing chicks into bars near offices of major companies and recording sex-starved mid-range executives dropping truth bombs in the hopes of making it to second base. It was shits and giggles for Veritas until they duped a Pfizer guy. I didn’t think it was that bad, but you do not mess with Pfizer. Project Veritas was forced to fire O’Keefe,58 which is like Tesla firing Elon Musk. Of course, there were rumors that he was cruel to his staff, had choked some chickens, and was a dickweed.59 Soon thereafter Veritas went through a Chapter 7 liquidation. You do not Pfuck with Pfizer.
  • Pfizer wasn’t done. When Russell Brand went on Bill Maher and “brought some facts” about the vaccine in an epic rant,60 he woke up to multiple accusations of sexual assault from decades ago and by anonymous accusers. Get the fuck out of here. Really? Anonymous? Rose McGowen, the heroine who founded the MeToo movement, came to Russell’s defense.61 He got deplatformed from anything and everything with a platform.62 Britain’s Parliament, admitting there was no evidence, tried to squeeze Rumble into booting Brand and were told to “fook off” by the CEO: “We regard it as deeply inappropriate and dangerous that the UK Parliament would attempt to control who is allowed to speak on our platform or to earn a living from doing so [you sheep shaggin’ punk-ass bitches.]”63 Nobody believes Brand is guilty of anything nefarious beyond being a chronic drug user and lover of many women in his youth, which he admits with shocking pride. The message was still clear: don’t Pfuck with Pfizer.
  • Matt Taibbi testified to Congress about the Twitter files and the FBI’s role in censoring awkward political narratives and was referred to as a “so-called journalist” by a so-called Congresswoman from the Virgin Islands.64 At exactly that moment, an IRS agent showed up at his house to harass his wife.65 What an amazing coincidence. The Biden administration’s wanton disregard for the most fundamental principles laid out by our founding fathers is breathtaking. They should all be vaccinated 20–30 times: a GoFundMe campaign would raise the necessary funds.

The original promise of the Internet was that it might democratize the exchange of information globally. A free internet would overwhelm all attempts to control information flow, its very existence a threat to anti-democratic forms of government everywhere. What we found in the [Twitter] Files was a sweeping effort to reverse that promise, and use machine learning and other tools to turn the internet into an instrument of censorship and social control. Unfortunately, our own government appears to be playing a lead role. It’s not possible to instantly arrive at truth. It is, however, becoming technologically possible to instantly define and enforce a political consensus online, which I believe is what we’re looking at.66

~ Matt Taibbi, testifying to Congress about the Twitter Files

  • UK Technology and Science Secretary Michelle Donelan plans to jail social media executives who fail to censor “all forms of expression which spread, incite, promote or justify hatred” content on their websites. What is harmful will be up to the government, but it will include transgenderism and calling your girlfriend “a leprechaun.”67
  • Several years ago baseball player Trevor Bauer was falsely accused by Lindsey Hill of sexually assaulting her. Texts surfaced of her saying she would set him up to get some of his money and showed her taking a selfie in the sack with Trevor sleeping, winking at the camera. Exoneration is little consolation.68 She should do years in prison. Years.

Elon Musk and Twitter. As many must now know, Elon Musk bought Twitter for $44 billion in 2022. With surprising support from the Twitter founder, Jack Dorsey, Elon released “The Twitter Files”, internal emails showing the geopolitical corruption within the rank and file. Twitter had become part of the machinery of the Deep State but with an 80-degree cant to the left. Faux libertarians can argue that, as a private company, Twitter had the right to do anything it wanted, but it had become both the town square and a monopoly. To boot a sitting president from the Town Square was the beginning of the end of an era.

They knew the Russian collusion story was garbage69 but played along with Stalinist-style censorship of “bad actors”, which was anybody to the right of Stalin. Twitter seems more open with Elon at the helm, but his newly appointed CEO seems like a complete Deep State Dipshit. New boss same as the old boss.70 Twitter still steps on accounts that are out of favor. Dr. Drew Pinsky was very popular but then left the reservation by questioning narratives du jour like the vaccine. For a guy with 2.6 million followers it is unimaginable that his Tweets could get so few likes:

Changes began almost immediately under Musk’s command. Renaming it “X” is not sticking at all. There were some good moves. He fired vast swaths of employees who were, at best, sucking up oxygen and bringing activist-left politics to the workplace. The blue checkmark formerly identifying prominent tweeters (as opposed to fakes) was turned into a pay-to-play checkmark for anybody who wants to fork up $8 per month. (This is getting like Dr. Seuss’s Sneeches and the Star-on/Star-off machine.) I miss the old checkmark but understand the push for revenue. I have a cash-cow idea for Elon: Offer a rainbow checkmark on Twitter and watch the left forking up big bucks to avoid being called a phobe. He added an annoying AI-driven reader-based fact check:

If you are one of the poor souls who concluded that Tesla is a scam and tried to short it to your utter destruction, you may be correct and probably will never forgive him. Yet, Elon has become vocal in his support of ideas that those on the real political right might like, drawing the praise of Senator Rand Paul. Elon ate this guy’s lunch about hate speech71 and posted the classic “this is extremely dangerous to our democracy” montage.72 Elon takes 13-minute flights on his jet (basically across town) to piss off the climate change crowd. Not really: his time is that valuable (kinda like Climate Czar John Kerry.)

This tees us up nicely to end this chapter by letting Elon speak for himself.

Oh you mean the “Election Integrity” Team that was undermining election integrity? Yeah, they’re gone.73

~ Elon Musk (@elonmusk) on some of his firings

Almost sent me to the hospital….Public debate over efficacy should not be shut down… the cure cannot be potentially worse than the disease.

~ Elon Musk (@elonmusk) on the vaccine

If @AlexanderSoros is serious about freedom of speech, then we have common ground. But destroying public safety by electing DAs who won’t prosecute violent criminals needs to stop.

~ Elon Musk (@elonmusk) on Team Soros

If you were unfairly treated by your employer due to posting or liking something on this platform, we will fund your legal bill. No limit. Please let us know… And we won’t just sue, it will be extremely loud and we will go after the boards of directors of the companies too.74

~ Elon Musk (@elonmusk) on forced vaccination

Didn’t the story come from Bellingcat, which literally specializes in psychological operations? I don’t want to hurt their feelings, but this is either the weirdest story ever or a very bad psyop!75

~ Elon Musk (@elonmusk) on the assertion the Texas Mall Shooter was a neo-Nazi and echoing Russia’s Foreign Minister, Sergei Lavrov’s 2016 view of Bellingcat.76

Free speech used to be a left or liberal value, and yet we see from the quote ‘left’ a desire to actually censor, and that seems crazy. I think we should be extremely concerned about anything that undermines the First Amendment.77

~ Elon Musk (@elonmusk) on free speech

My concern with Twitter was that it is somewhat of the digital town square, and it’s important that there be both the reality and perception of trust for a wide range of viewpoints.

~ Elon Musk (@elonmusk)

I think we need to be very cautious about anything that is anti-meritocratic and anything that results in the suppression of free speech. So, those are two of the aspects of the woke mind virus that I think are very dangerous, is that it’s often very anti-meritocratic, and you can’t question things. Even the questioning is bad. I was trying to figure out where it’s coming from. I think it’s actually been a long time brewing, in that it’s been going on for a while, and the amount of indoctrination that’s happening in schools and universities is, I think, far beyond what parents realize.78

~ Elon Musk (@elonmusk) on cancel culture

US Border Patrol just reported the highest number of recorded illegal immigrants in history at over 260,000 this month. The full number, including unrecorded, may be over half a million per month, which is the population of Wyoming.79

~ Elon Musk

 

To continue to Part 2 of Dave Collum’s Year in Review click HERE.