4 Ways I'm Investing For Global Destruction, And How You Can Too

By: Dick Sterling | Mon, Jan 6, 2014
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When the world entered the financial storm of 2008/09, it wasn't just an economic hurricane. Rather it was the start of a culture-wide convulsion, resulting from successive generations of seed corn eaters whose god is their appetite. And even though the markets are up, inflation seems low, and the dollar seems stable, the truth is --- the hurricane hasn't ended yet: America is simply in the storm's eye and may be about to exit the other side.

And don't think the destruction will just be limited to the financial markets. Rather it will cascade into food production and distribution, water access, monetary instruments, and urban security. Let me explain.

Starting with food:

Back in 2007 and 2008 we saw food riots in more than two dozen countries. The worldwide rice shortage and a major jump in staple food prices led to urban chaos in northern Africa, parts of the middle east, Indonesia, Thailand and Pakistan. There were tortilla riots in Mexico... pasta riots in Italy... onion riots in India. This list is by no means exhaustive. And more recently in 2011, food riots are believed to have (partially) triggered the so-called Arab Spring. Politicians understand what happened to Mubarak in Egypt could happen elsewhere, including the West. They understand that food riots often lead to regime change.

But food riots could never happen in the US, right? Well, they just did, even if on a small scale. And should food prices go high enough, much larger riots will happen right across America, just as they have in other countries. Remember these facts:

First, almost no one in America knows where their food comes from, nor do they care. Only 1% of the US population actually farms, and to the average urban-dweller, food simply comes from the grocery store. And grocery stores maintain only a few days' worth of inventory. A city-dweller's emergency food supply is limited to what he has in the fridge and cupboard.

Second, the food supply is dependent on grain --- not just for breads, cereals, and pasta. But also for dairy, meat and eggs --- it all requires grain as an input. High grain prices therefore cascade throughout the entire food supply.

Third, people don't have to be starving to riot. Just knowing their daily bread is threatened is enough to make them protest.

As for current food prices, they are high and going higher, with the world price index already well above 2008 levels (when adjusted for inflation). The reasons are simple and consist of two major, related elements:

First, food is expensive because the price of crude oil is expensive. One of the main inputs in agriculture is petroleum, which is used in the production and distribution of nearly everything. Tractors require fuel. Fertilizers, chemicals, grains, and hay are all transported by trucks, which run on petroleum. And, most food products arrive at the grocery store by truck, rail and/or freighter --- all of which need fuel. So as crude prices go higher, so do food prices.

Second, food is expensive because the world's developing countries are bidding up world grain prices as their diets improve and their meat consumption increases. As the emerging markets grow, demand for food skyrockets.

Given we are currently at historically high real food prices, and given the link between food prices and civil unrest, what would happen if there was an exogenous supply shock? The risk of this happening is increasing, and here's why:

Much of the world is already in chronic drought or rapidly depleting their agricultural aquifers. Here in the US, rivers are drying up from over-use and the Ogallala aquifer is running dry according to researchers. Agricultural production is threatened and hindered by lack of accessible water. One severe drought in America's midwest causes massive ripple effects across the planet.

And that's to say nothing of the wheat plague that threatens to go global, the proliferation of pesticide-resistant superbugs, and the emergence of Roundup-tolerant superweeds. It's not so much "if" there's going to be a food crisis, but "when".

Sadly, the crises always turn into an excuse to roll-out more state power. Tightening state-control of the world food supply is relatively simple when you consider that the grain, meat and dairy industries are dominated by less than two dozen corporations. But in the end, the largest corporations generally benefit from Big Government, so the real question is: Can investors position themselves to profit from it too? The answer is Yes, by owning select agricultural investments but remember to be careful because many of the widely-followed Ag stocks are already fully-valued.

And for all the same reasons I am bullish on agriculture, I'm also bullish on water --- which is directly related to rising food demand. Most of the world's water consumption is directed to agricultural irrigation, and if projections for global food demand are anywhere near accurate, water use is going to increase. This has led me to tell investors how they can profit from the coming bonanza in water investments, although again I must remind readers to tread carefully in this sector because most of the well-known "water stocks" have already been bid substantially higher. Still, there is value to be found in specific niches including foreign plays as I've mentioned.

As we continue to develop our Global Meltdown theme we inevitably turn to precious metals, particularly gold. The world's fiat currencies must all eventually go to their intrinsic value --- and with nothing but legislation to back them, I would argue their value is zero. Naturally this is not something the civil government, central bank, or mainstream press care to admit, and so the onus is on individual investors to see through the BLS statistics and recognize that serious price inflation is inevitable. When that process begins to pick up steam, things will happen very quicky including a stampede for the exit as investors try to swap their paper for items of tangible worth. Gold will be tops on their list.

So we've covered food riots, an emerging water crisis and plunging fiat currencies --- plus we've looked at ways for forward-thinking investors to not only protect their assets but also profit in the process. But what about urban security?

Flash mobs turned violent as described here, and here are early warning signs of the kind of coordinated chaos which could erupt in the wake of even modest civil unrest. And even without the potential for nation-wide food riots, the decay and destruction of many of America's once-thriving urban centers is already well-underway and causing mayhem throughout these vast, emerging economic dead zones. It's not just happening in Detroit.

It's part of a "rural-urban conflict" theme which dovetails with the population de-concentration pockets we've been witnessing. The natural way for investors to profit from urban chaos is to speculate in gun and ammo manufacturers, but Smith & Wesson (SWHC) and Ruger (RGR) have already posted massive gains, as has Alliant Techsystems (ATK). Other than those, the number of public companies in the firearms and ammunition space is very limited. But there are other niches which offer opportunities too, including UAV's, armored vehicles, body armor, intrusion prevention, riot control, and simulation technology. I've identified three small companies in a previous post whose share prices have languished despite the market's recent highs and may provide realistic upside (and substantial risk) for investors wanting to deploy assets in the urban conflict theme.

So to wrap things up in what has already turned into a much longer post than I'd intended, I'd ask you to remember this:

The events and themes which I've described above are related to a sustained transformation which is taking place in the investment world right now --- an unprecedented economic shift that's been going on for decades... yet not one in ten-thousand people even knows it's taking place. Those who are prescient enough to see and understand what's happening will not just protect their portfolios, but go on to generate spectacular returns. Some of the world's elite investors understand this, and are positioning for it --- just like the elite have always done, throughout history. As I see it, you have an uncommon opportunity to join them and make extraordinary gains as the next phase of the shift kicks into gear. Will you?

 


 

Dick Sterling

Author: Dick Sterling

Dick Sterling
Editor, Dick Sterling Publishing
www.DickSterling.com

Dick Sterling

As an economist and investment pro, Dick has been actively and unceasingly involved in the stock market for the past two decades. He is known for his contrarian, outside-the-box approach to investing, and his unique insights are always the opposite of mainstream groupthink. His ground-breaking proprietary investment tools include The Profit Machine, Mastering the Bubble, The Small Stock Formula, and Keys to the Investing Universe. Dick's commentary and publications can be found at his website: www.DickSterling.com

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Source: The Contrarian Take http://blogs.forbes.com/michaelpollaro/
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