Fire or Ice

Some say the world will end in fire; 
Some say in ice. 
From what I’ve tasted of desire 
I hold with those who favor fire. 
But if it had to perish twice, 
I think I know enough of hate 
To know that for destruction ice 
Is also great 
And would suffice.

– “Fire and Ice” by Robert Frost

Cat, an old friend and new reader, recently posted this comment:

Hi Preston,

I read yesterday that Bush was moving into Preston Hollow in Dallas. Suddenly, I wondered, “What happened to Preston Poulter?” I was pleasantly surprised to see that you had a blog and had even run as a Libertarian for Texas Rep.

I enjoy this blog and the Libertarian perspective. You write plainly and with great focus. You write without much malice. It’s nice to find a blog that is about a person’s passion for betterment rather than an attention grab or a vehicle for invective.

I hope your find the Argentinian’s words interesting. He’s living the best he can in a world that went from prosperous to dangerous gradually. So that’s a mild blessing — economic collapses don’t often happen to an entire population overnight. You can kind of see them coming if you’re looking. This gives you time to spread your message about how to prepare for a period of increased self-reliance.

Aside from economic collapse, I am concerned about infrastructure collapse for various reasons. Avian influenza (H5N1) is probably on a collision course with mankind. It’s endemic in bird populations now. Every farmed chicken/duck/turkey that is raised and consumed is a living flu laboratory that is gradually mutating the virus into something that can potentially be transmitted to humans. Once that happens, we will likely see a global pandemic that cripples our import markets and results in critical supply shortages as people become reluctant to leave their homes.

This is a decent book to read about bird flu: Take note of his personal affiliations with animal rights groups as a potential conflict of interest. The science and history of pandemic influenza as he describes them are still sound (if a bit simplified). I found it to be a good primer. Everyone’s obsessed about the economy while this monster slumbers somewhere in the world.

Either way — economic collapse or influenza like in Stephen King’s The Stand, people have much to gain by preparation for harder times.

Thank you for the kind wishes. I hope my chatter isn’t clogging up your blog. I enjoy having intelligent people to talk to.

– Cat


I did not know Bush was planning on moving to the Preston Hollow division of Dallas, Texas but apparently it is so. As for my running for Libertarian State Representative in the last election, you can read about my experience here. As for the Argentinean’s experience with hyperinflation, it’s interesting to hear that gold jewelry became a currency and that all gold was treated as scrap gold on the black market.

In my book, “What Do You Mean My Money’s Worthless?”  I recommend that people purchase and keep a fair number of Silver Eagle’s on hand. They are each verified to become ounce of 99.9% pure silver which makes them a known quantity should we have to deal with a black market scenario and, as they have roughly comparable value to a $20 bill, they represent the right amount of wealth to go shopping.

As for your concern regarding Avian Flu, you aren’t the only one to be worried about that. In James Howard Kuntsler’s book, The Long Emergency he discusses the likelihood of a epidemic that wipes out a large portion of the population as well as the famines that he feels are inevitable given how expensive energy is going to be. Kuntsler’s hypothesis is that we have exceeded the carrying capacity of the planet and that we are going to start see the human population forced to shrink by various means in the next few decades. 

I don’t spend any time worrying about scenario’s like that. I feel that being a being a Wall Street bear takes up enough of my time, so I really don’t have time to worry about other scenarios such as disease wiping everyone out. And the real problem with that kind of thinking is that it seems there’s not much that can really be done about it. If the “Spanish Flu” really does make a come back, there’s not much that can be done about it. Being a Wall Street bear, on the other hand, means you can take steps to protect yourself and profit from market declines. Then you can make fun of permabulls like Ben Stein and Jeremy Sigel. 

Speaking of, the Dow finished down today 2.72% while the stock of Barrick Gold (ticker symbol=ABX) went up a good 1.83%. That’s what I like to see as a bear market investor: stocks down, gold up. That’s a trend I’d like to see continue. I talk about the ratio of the Dow Jones Industrial Average to the price of an ounce of gold in my book and how certain I am that that ratio is going to decline in the near future. When I wrote that book, the ratio was at 17. Today it’s roughly 11.3. In the next couple of years, we should see it decline all the way to three or lower, and that’s a lot of profit to be had. And making money off of economic downturns if far better than making them off of market upswings because it means you’ve got money when everyone else is broke, which is what we bears fantasize about.

Ben Stein’s Money Bet on the Wrong Things

For market Bears like me, the current market environment is absolute heaven. I’ve been making money off of my short positions, but I decided to close those today (which should make the government happy) because gold stocks are starting to look very attractive to me. Specifically I’m thinking of backing up the truck and buying Barrick Gold (Ticker Symbol ABX). Gold stocks have been down quite a bit in the last few weeks and considering how much money the government has decided to throw at the financial bailout this week I’m thinking gold miners are going to make out like bandits. You see, the government doesn’t actually have any money to bailout anything. As I’ve been telling my friends, America is broke. And I’m not sure that foreign lenders are going to want to line up to loan another Trillion or so to us given how indebted we are and how our financial system seems to be imploding. Inquiring minds suspect that the government may have to resort to just printing the money for the bailout, and that would be VERY good for gold and even better for gold miners. 

GRRRR! Bear market profits are the best kind. But what can be even more satisfying is reading Ben Stein’s latest offering. For those of you who don’t follow him (and I recommend you don’t), Mr. Stein is known as a permabull for his perpetually sunny outlook on the American economy. So it is with special satisfaction that I read Mr. Stein as he tried to explain how exactly the US economy got into such a pickle, and I most confess a few moments of self-congratulatory laughter as he explains why exactly he was so wrong in saying a year ago that subprime mortgages were not capable of sinking the American economy. You see he reasoned that subprime mortgages were only $250 billion or so and could not sink a multi-trillion dollar economy. He is now admitting that he neglected to figure in the Credit Default Swaps that DID run into the trillions of dollars and how all of these unregulated debt instruments floating around that were pyramided on top of that debt are in fact causing a real problem. Oh well, Ben. I guess we all get them wrong from time to time.

Except it seems like all Ben would have had to have done to avoid having to scrap egg off of his face now would been to have visited some bear market sites and read what the bears were saying. Heck, even if he wanted to write us all off, he could have listened to Warren Buffett saying that credit derivatives were financial instruments of mass destruction. It’s not like nobody knew this was going to happen. I specifically remember reading Mr. Stein’s work a year ago in absolute astonishment that he did not seem to comprehend the ripple effect that these defaults would have.

Mr. Stein closes his financial advice column by asking what it is that we should all do. Which isn’t really any advice at all. Well, I’ve already told you what to do. Load up on gold miners. If you’re looking for more advice on how we got into this mess, how you can save money, and the best ways to invest for your future, why not buy a copy of my book.

I promise it doesn’t end with “What the heck is to be done?”