Rabbit Hole

By: Rodney C. Cook | Fri, Nov 7, 2003
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The general public should find it difficult to invest with confidence when our most esteemed financial oracle cant find anything in which to park his spare change, but such is not the case. Mr. Buffet likes currencies with foreign currencies being favored. This is a first. For Mr. Buffet it is not as it has ever been. Nor for any of the rest of us I'm afraid. Do you suppose that Mr. Buffet includes gold in his definition of currencies? If not, his gold bug father must be whispering from beyond. But junior may not be listening. In his new role as a social engineer, Buffet has expressed opinions on fiat based mechanisms for dealing with our trade deficit. And they do not include the historic role of gold in this function. So perhaps we have a ways to go before the oracle turns to the noble metal. And even further for the general public.

We are considerably closer to an acknowledgement of gold with many other legendary giants that have exhibited consistent financial genius. So far they seem uncertain in their vision. They see the favorable financial data for what it is, or is not. But they vary in their expectations. While they have a common concern over the dollar, there seems to be a consensus of trepidation, with each constituent speaking to a separate weakness in the global financial landscape. It is almost as if they are afraid to complete their perspectives. It is as if some of what they see is too terrible for polite company. Some times you can almost see it in their eyes, or read it between the lines. Or perhaps they just recognize the echo of the equities bubble. That once again their warnings will be dismissed with oblique references to those crazy old coots. It is eerie.

Equally surrealistic is the flood of money into stocks in the face of exploding financial scandal. Last week we watched the Sardinian circus play to the faux-Roman nobility for the masses to jeer. All the while the stock market supplied the bread. Mutual fund revelations have exploded on the television screen, the corruptions finally being recognized as nearly pervasive. The coin in these entities has been clipped by 1% with just simple "market timing" operations. And what's this? Are the specialists and insiders pervasively taking advantage of their privileged perspective and access in the NYSE? I doubt this coin has any round edges left at all. But that's okay; it will still buy a shot of vodka from David in Sardinia.

So just how deep does this rabbit hole go? How long will the show trials placate the masses and convince them that the fix is in? Will we drop past valuation practices of the hedge funds? Will the excessive derivatives positions of the GSEs be dismissed as we tumble downward? Will we ignore that the Fed, the Treasury and the central bankers rule by fiat as hyperinflation intoxicates us all with a flood of dollars? Perhaps this rabbit hole is bottomless, or worse. A gargantuan manifestation of Barrick Gold and the House of Morgan: A black hole with a liar standing next to it.

I find it difficult to put pen to paper on the implications of what is spoken and, more importantly, what is not spoken. I have been using a quasi Delphi method to understand financial mega-trends, but building a consensus of expert opinion from the financial titans of the "old economy" and their wards has become increasingly difficult. These gentlemen have learned to speak softly of financial pain: to be on the record, without becoming a scapegoat; to warn quietly, so that they will not be ignored at the party. At least a remnant will hear their warnings. You must listen carefully to their wisdom even as the ranting of the pundits drowns out their words. The mosaic of spoken opinion leads to one solid conclusion: There is little coin left to clip and the accounting has only just begun. But it is the unspoken that is most troublesome, almost as if they expect distortions of epic proportions, beyond the grasp of their own wisdom. So I continue to listen attentively. And pray for the inevitable whisper of gold.


Author: Rodney C. Cook

Currently Rod is the founder and manager of Bull Trout Capital, a boutique investment company, and author of the FishWrapper, a private investment newsletter. Bull Trout Capital was founded to maximize returns based upon long cycle dynamics and Austrian economic principles. Dr. Cook uses internet based methodologies to identify sectors, strategies and shares that will most likely outperform at the current point in the cycle whilst maximizing upside exposure to potential economic dislocations. The FishWrapper features Dr. Cook's personal investments, methods and strategies where he has demonstrated extraordinary returns. Before Bull Trout he founded Sightward and authored patents (now owned by InfoUSA) to forecast human behavior on the internet; co-founded Ark Interface (now owned by xSides) to develop and patent innovative computer user interfaces; founded Optimas (now owned by Media Cybernetics) for medical and scientific image processing systems; and founded BioSonics Imaging division and developed their Optical Pattern Recognition System. Dr. Cook began his career as a Biometrician for the International Pacific Salmon Commission applying his doctoral dissertation in applied pattern recognition from the University of Washington College of Ocean and Fisheries Science.

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