The Power of Magical Thinking

I sit here today and watch a world that is being pressured to reopen. The reason we are in this mess is we refused to understand reality. China refused to admit and treat the release of the Wuhan Virus. It is my belief the Wuhan virus was likely released from the level 4 Wuhan virus factory, through shoddy sterilization practices. Having worked in an OR for 35 years the conditions necessary to sterilize the tools in the autoclaves are severe and those machines break down regularly sometimes daily. The quality control is demanding and if not adhered to would cancel any insurance protection the facility would have, i.e 100% compliance. In other words working with contamination requires pristine commitment. My guess is an autoclave broke down and the test tubes went into the garbage unprocessed. The first recorded tic of some new virus in Wuhan was in late Oct. The senior corona virus researcher at the Wuhan level 4 lab seems to have left for “the country”, likely as ashes spread around some bean fields. The Wuhan facility is about 200 yards from the wet market where all of this transpired. China apparently Magically Thought hiding the reality under the carpet was a solution when in fact aggressive contact tracing was what would have worked at that stage. ANY SECOND YEAR MED STUDENT KNOWS THIS. It is not esoteric knowledge.

The WHO failed to call this a pandemic till March 11 even though it met all of the WHO’s criteria for a month. I guess they Magically Thought by NOT calling a spade a spade it somehow wouldn’t be what it is. Now I read the Magical Thinking that there are way way more infected than we realize. Instead of doing the experiment we make assumptions. I read that though the social distancing has slowed the spread, the Magical Thinking that a slower rate of spread is somehow consistent with no rate of spread as in herd immunity.

I read an article about SF in the Flu pandemic of 1918. The spread was slowed by social distancing and wearing masks. The Magical Thinking was the coast was clear. The mask order was lifted and victory was declared. 6 weeks later the death was back. After the first ban had ended the ability to restore the ban was extremely diminished, and so as any 2nd year med student can tell you. Magical Thinking is simply lying to yourself using a narrative to stop the cognitive dissonance of choosing to believe a lie.

Today the price of OIL went negative for the first time ever. It’s a concept so ridiculous it can’t be believed. What that says is the producer will pay you to take a barrel of oil, yet the QQQ is at levels that are positive for the year. Unemployment is at 22M and fully 1/3 of the companies are likely to be out of business by the end of the year. I talked to someone yesterday who told me they lost their business, nothing Magical about that. Yet we Magically believe in a V shaped recovery. World wide supply chains are not disrupted but destroyed because if you can’t make sell and ship product, well you simply can’t, and the debt will work its Magic. Everything runs on margins. Landlords will discover the Magic of renters who have no jobs, and their debt will have its way. How does an oil industry who’s product is under water stay in business? So what’s it going to be, your money or your life? What chapter in Vicki Robbins book covers this eventuality?

The solution is for the world to move away from the past, and move to a leaner more rational existence, called the future, and a narrative that corresponds with reality. FIRE actually got this more or less correct by right sizing existence. They got it wrong by over leveraging their tiny little nest egg. The beginning of recovery is to understand what you have is not what you had. What you had was extremely low volatility and high return and a narrative based on that. In a world of 22M unemployed what you have is extremely high vol and low to negative return maybe for the rest of your life. Oil at <0 is called the mother of all deflation. Well disciplined children listen to their mother. If you allow the narrative to rule you, you will be ruled and screwed at the same time. Jim Creamer doesn’t get paid by you, he gets paid by them, to sell shit to you.

Living in the Land of Hurricanes

I live in FL and have been through 2 dozen hurricanes. Some have been close calls some direct hits. I live on the Atlantic coast and some have skirted landfall with the eye 30 miles from my doorstep traveling a 3 mph. I have been involved with tornadoes spawned buy wind sheer. I’ve had hundreds of tons of once majestic trees that have left my property in the back of a dump truck. I’ve had infrastructure destruction. I’ve had power outages that lasted 7 weeks in 85 degree FL sun. Ya So???

The rise in virus may have peaked, but the aftermath is FAR from over. I remember in Francis the storm hovered over my house for 24 hours. Having a hurricane overhead does not induce an easy rest. Of course the power was out and I had to keep buttoned up or risk loosing the roof so I sat in the dark alone listening for a freight train indicating a tornado. Emotionally you get the shit walloped out of you.

Then the storm passes and you are left with the aftermath. One storm every 3rd power pole down my street had snapped and twirled the wires around forming wires expected to be separated by 6 feet into a tightly twisted cable. To power that would simply short the system. I think I was out of power 2 weeks on that occasion. Another time they were just about to turn the power back on and my neighbor Paul Bunyon and his trusty chain saw decided to cut down a tree and it tore down the main line that fed about 10 families which of course put us at the bottom of the triage. That one kept me out of power for 42 days. I often would get in the car and head over to my carriers’s cell phone tower and park underneath to make calls. The man with the strongest signal possess the bandwidth and a car parked under the antenna is a pretty good bet to acquire a cell.

What’s the point? The very first thing is to assess the damage. Did the roof blow off, are the windows intact, are power lines down. The next is to access stores, yep plenty of Peanut butter, plenty of water stored in all the bathtubs. When the power is out the pumps don’t run and there is no flushing unless you have a bucket and a source of stored water, like a bath tub. You flush then throw a bucket of water in the toilet tank for next time. You flush about once a day.

Fire up the generator and cool down the refers to try and keep the frozens frozen. You have to switch between the refer and the microwave because you can’t run both and a hot dog tastes damn good. You spend the day timing how and when to refill the genny because there is no gas available. There will be in a week, but right now it’s ration city. You sweat a lot. Next try to get some communication going maybe a TV with local coverage and maybe internet. The genny keeps the phones charged and the modem hot. At night you sleep under an open window and the dew settles on you and makes you clammy so instead of hot and sweaty you’re cold and sweaty

People think this is going to be a V. There is no chance of that. We are not even out of the storm yet. We have not even the first clue of the damage, and the damage is going to be far more extensive than we understand. The peak infection may have been realized but infection will continue and the next phase will be trampling down flare ups. I live in a forest and have been through forest fires also and have experienced flareups. It’s going to be brutal. In a month we passed from a predictable life into a cloud of unknowing. Don’t just presume everything will be OK. If you can’t predict when you will be out of gas, your meat will rot. If you don’t know where to get gas and when it will be there, your meat will rot. If you don’t have water for the toilet… We are entering a survival phase. This virus disaster will follow a disaster based reality not a historically based reality. Things do recover but not quickly and not without hiccups probably multiple months of hiccups.

My Dilemma

I spend a lot of time trying to understand reality. To understand reality you need to pick the signal out of the noise and focus because in that differential (not in the absolute) is where the information lays. Everybody has an opinion. I read some who think it’s 1929, I read others who don’t think anything has changed. I look at the landscape and it sure looks different to me.

The US has had the honor of being the biggest debtor in the world. It is through our largess to always buy more shit that the rest of the world stays afloat. Japan sells shit, we buy shit. China sells shit, we buy shit. Europe sells shit, we buy shit. What happens if we can no longer afford to buy shit? Shit backs up is what happens. Shit backs up and a new order ensues because shit has to go somewhere or the whole thing comes to a halt.

How will it reorder? I’m guessing it will be along debt/gdp lines. If the debt is big and the gdp is small the quotient is big. If the debt is small and the gdp is big the quotient is small. If the debt is small and the gdp is small the quotient is medium.

The US has the biggest debt, and a debt to gdp of well over 100% and with the creation of new debt it’s heading higher. The new debt is to prop up the dead wood of US business. Companies that are virtually worthless are kept alive by ever increasing debt, companies that should dissolve and go away. They are like tumors sucking blood supply and nutrients and energy. You don’t feed cancer you excise cancer. If you feed cancer the cancer will consume you.

Something about debt to GDP is some debt has a multiplier effect on the economy. Some debt can improve gdp at a greater rate than the increase in debt in a positive feed back loop. So if you have a dollar and you borrow 90 cents when it runs through the money machine 1.25 is created and you have 2.25 – .9 or 1.3 instead of 1 at the end of the day. Studies have shown however this relationship is not to infinity but is limited by debt. In the limit oncen debt to gdp goes beyond 0.9, when you borrow 90 cents you get back 80 cents so at the end of the day your dollar invested lost a dime. This is called deflation. You can “hide” deflation by financial engineering and using balance sheet tricks so for example stock prices appear to rise, so Uber may appear to soar in price but when you count the debt the company is worthless, and so you don’t own an asset you own a narrative, and a debt.

What if the S&P 500 is actually the S&P 250? What if there are actually 250 Ubers lurking in the index? What do you own? When you plow your kilobuck a month into the index and the index goes up does it go up because of commerce or does it go up based on your kilobuck buying the index which contains 250 Ubers? Price would normally be what clues you in but if the price is jiggered by financial engineering like share buyback you loose the signal. Do you even care what it is your kilobuck is buying or do you do it because it’s easy and the bottom line seems to go up every year? Seems to go up because at some point the tide goes out and all the naked Ubers flash their asses, but the government comes in and covers their nakedness with an illusion of solvency using government money blasted into private coffers, but wait a minute, we only get 80 cents back for every 90 cents spent and after all is said and done you still own something that effectively is worthless.

The promise of Uber is the greater fool bargain. You buy a piece of crap narrative low with the idea you can sell the narrative to a greater fool at a higher price. FIRE is like this. You buy indexes then promote the hell out of buying indexes, and when indexes are bought they are bought at a higher price because the greater fool bought higher, but then you plow in another kilobuck into the index and you are the greater fool. Since the government can’t tolerate the index going down and the 250 Ubers being exposed they pump a ton of dough into the index and attempt to inflate it but each pump is less and less effective.

It’s like the old days of running a code. You give epi, then you give more epi, then more epi, but the acidosis and hypoxemia is relentless. Cells that were aerobic are now anaerobic and pumping out way more hydrogen ions than the buffers can tolerate, for way less ATP created, the pH falls and you die. You furiously bag and pump but no O2 reaches the mitochondria. That’s what kills you. The partial pressure of 02 at the mitochondria become nonexistent or the mitochondria itself can no longer respond to 02, ATP ceases to be made and you’re dead.

Are we dead? Russia had a debt to gdp of .17. They have no debt and several hundred tons of gold. In fact they are the second biggest gold producer in the world. They mine money and put it in the bank, and they have nukes. China has more than 1000 tons of gold in the bank and they have nukes. China and Russia are creating a members only crypto currency which would allow dollar free trading between counter parties. China needs oil Russia makes oil Russia sends oil and gets crypto (backed by gold) back and since no dollars are involved the demand for dollars effectively falls, weakening the dollar. Weak dollars means the good we buy are more expensive at the consumer level.

I could go on, but the point is, what’s the signal? Is this a V recovery or a dead cat bounce? What happens to your bank account when you inject 10 trillion and get only 8 trillion back, inject another 10 trillion and get 7 trillion back? Sounds a lot like the code scenario. You probably don’t want to own dollars when they are headed to becoming worthless, but what do you buy to store their value in? Uber? Berkshire? Extended duration treasuries? Rubles? Gold? Copper? BTC? Presently I’m thinking yes gold yes EDV yes BTC and yes to BRK when the lows are retested.

What if my analysis is wrong and it’s a V shaped shallow recession? But unemployment is going to 25M and JP Morgan is predicting a 40% gdp drop in the face of a triple increase in debt yielding a huge increase in debt to gdp and a further huge deterioration in intrinsic value, so is a shallow V anywhere on the table or is that just narrative? If you didn’t buy the dip not to worry. When we retest the lows a couple times you will have ample opportunity to buy low or if the lows are breached even lower still. I know what we need is more debt! Just send me a check!

Here is a good video

Green Shoot?

I practiced all kinds of anesthesia from total intravenous, to narcotic based, high potency volatile anesthetics +- N2O to weird stuff like pentothal/lidocaine/N2O/02. Even done some cases using heliox. The thing about general anesthesia except of the narcotics based anesthetics is they are second order control loops. You have to dump in a big dose into an empty tank and eventually the tank fills up enough that you gain control over a second order equation. Dosing is not linear but exponential. The devices we use like vaporizers make it feel like its linear but if you do an actual closed loop anesthetic where the mv uptake of O2 is static and the CO2 is absorbed the dosing if the anesthetic is over an increasingly longer time sequences say 1 2 4 8 16 32 minute intervals. If the anesthetic was dosed in cc what you would find as you got about half an hour into the case , your 16 minute does would be a relative overdose at the beginning of the period followed by a relative under dose beginning half way through the period. I would split my doses into 1/4 doses and give them along the interval to smooth out the relative peaks and troughs. I generally ran these kinds of anesthetics under spontaneous ventilation since the nature of the ventilation was a exquisite measure of anesthetic depth in a closed system better than HR or BP. If you had your hand on the bag and your ear piece on the chest you could feel and hear changes in anesthetic depth. Closed circuit anesthesia was total dog lab and I learned a ton about normal physiology and pathophysiology from it.

I’ve been following the virus on the Johns Hopkins site and the growth curves. The virus initially is like dumping anesthetic into an empty tank as the tank fills you start to apply measures meant to quell not the spread but the rate of spread in an attempt to reduce spread. That’s what shutting everything down is all about. It’s a means to normalize rate of spread. Spread is inevitable but rate of spread is controllable, and it works just like a closed circuit anesthetic.

Yesterday the US new case plot looked like this

See that little bar at the end is a bit lower than the previous bar. The other bars have been virtually relentlessly up BUT the log of the growth curve looks like this

See how the graph by the arrow seems like it’s starting to curve down slightly? Exponential growth would look like a straight line.

This is Italy. Note how the growth curve is almost horizontal, This means Italy is almost linear in it’s growth. This means R0 in Italy under its present quarantine regimen is approaching 1. Here is Italy’s new cases graph

If yesterday represents our first down day in 18 days we may be where Italy is today which is approaching an R0 of 1. I don’t want to overstate the data, we are in a hell of a mess. But the first sign of resolution is the change in sign from + to -.

Notice Italy is still under severe quarantine but the back of the virus seems to be approaching broke. If they just quit the quarantine exponential growth would resume, but by judicious relaxation of quarantine and spot case tracking and re-quarantine of local outbreaks things could well be looking up in Italy and we might be 18 days behind, at least that’s how I read the data. If you let off the controls too fast you will simply go exponential again.

This to me is good news since it seems a sign we have a modicum of control now, but it doesn’t jibe at all with media expectations. It exactly jibes with what I hear underlying Fauci ‘s expectation. To me this is very good news and I consider it a green shoot. We face a long and terrible recovery but the first step to recovery is the door step. You have to cross the door step to get out of hell.

So what does that mean to markets? What I see is a very slow and choppy restart to living. You may open up the Wendy’s or the Denny’s and COVID may reappear and contacts must be traced and quarantined until declared all clear. Those with immunity will be immune and will be able to resume economic activity and the nation in fits and starts will begin to recover economically. What that kind of time frame means to levered companies may be another story. What that means to company outputs, may mean companies are working at 50% or some other number. I would expect recovery growth to take a long time to become exponential and then normalize to some new normal steady state. How long does that take? Who knows but it certainly seems to me it will be many months to years.

I have no idea what all the screwing around with money velocity and money supply will produce except I don’t think it’s going to be anything good. I decided to buy some GLD at the present price as a hedge because I feel entirely naked being in cash. At least GLD will pay 0% interest because the 3 month treasury has been going negative. I’m not sure what it means to own government bonds that you have to pay to own, instead of having them pay you. I hear arguments like “well you pay a nickle to get your money back” Screw it I’ll just keep my money. and pay myself the nickle. I’m also thinking about getting back into BRK.B. Apparently it’s at book value around $167. I’m also looking at KOL which is taking a permanent option on energy and steel, and has a 17% yield. Buying this is a bit like buying a penny stock so unless you understand penny stocks be careful.

The whole world us up today so I’ll probably buy some SPY on a day trade and set a stop loss as it moves up. I much prefer buy and hold and don’t like this trading stuff but since trades are free and I can go short and long if I can make a few hundred a day, I pay for my hamburgers at very low risk, till things become clearer.

Today I didn’t even have to use my AK
I gotta say, it was a good day”

Has the FED Given the Economy Unstable Angina?

I saw this video by George Gammon

He describes something called the No Bueno Zone which is a narrowing of the effective interest rate above which the market machine ceases to work. As we go farther into debt, it’s like the arteries are getting narrowed. What worked before now causes ST depression and angina. At some point ST depression will become ST elevation and infarct will commence. I think this is an important video. The FED just made their balance sheet the balance sheet of the world. Do they really think they can bail out the entire Earth?

The 21st Century Depression

I live on the first floor so I don’t have anywhere to jump. My potential energy can’t be converted to enough kinetic energy to do any damage. I’ve been looking at downturns to try and see which one this rhymes with and best fit IMHO is 1929. The great depression lasted from 1929 to about 1940 when WW2 intervened. The depression consisted of 2 verses the 1929 verse and the 1937 verse. A good measure of depression is unemployment. This is the picture of unemployment in the 1929 depression.

Unemployment peaked to about 22% and later to about 17% in 1937 following a drop to a mere 14% in between.

Everything will flow from the unemployment graph. Unemployment directly measures productivity and productivity is the engine of GDP so you can bet GDP is going to match unemployment. It took 13 years to get back to 5% unemployment. You may say “what about robots!” What about them. What company is going to capex a bunch of robots in a depression? What bank will bankroll such capex?.

This is the reason it’s different this time. Nobody’s ever seen this before. This chart goes back to 2004 which includes the tail end of the .com bust. This spike is the beginning of the fingerprint of this depression. People have yet to come to terms with reality and are changing chairs on the deck as if the iceberg was just an inconvenient bump, all with full expectation of resuming the trip with minor consequence.

The virus is expected to peak in mid may 6 weeks from now. What does “peak” mean?

Peak is defined when the second derivative of the growth curve goes from + to -. It’s also called the inflection point. It’s where the black line touches the orange curve. Let’s say by “peak” in May, say May 15, there are 3M sick and the peak rate of infection is 100K/day. On May 16 there will be 95,000 additional sick and on the 17th 93,000 and on the 18th 91,000. It will take till July or Aug to get the new case rate down to where it was in January.

I read a frightening stat. 70% to 83% of vented patients die. That’s like picking up a 6 shooter with 5 bullets loaded for your game of Russian roulette. So even if you have a vent it isn’t going to save you. You’re going to die and probably 30% of the health care workers taking care of you are going to get creamed. As I write this there are 207K confirmed cases and well over 1M slated by Easter. People are going to try and assign blame. They will quack about testing or this or that but in reality none of that matters. Strong self quarantine of you and your family for 4 or 5 months is all that matters. Spring break with the invincible’s happened and now they are sick. In march we woke up to tangerine trees and marmalade skies. We no longer reside in Kansas.

I read a blog post by “Our Next Life“. This is a woman, a retired Democrat political adviser with bright red hair and a bone in her nose opining on the way forward. I guess she wrote a book called “work optional” If unemployment is 25% it isn’t “work optional”, it’s Sorry No Work Available. I guess this guru had to cancel a couple of fabulous ski vaca’s

While you’re watching CNBC and them trying to get you to BUY STOCKS and my pillows!! You might consider the unemployment graph. Many if not most businesses will be gone in 6 months due to cash flow and leverage. I have read of people considering renters strikes where they tell landlords to go pound sand. “I don’t have a job and No I don’t have the rent and NO I’m not moving out!” Do you really think COVID cops have any time to deal with that shit? How long can you survive paying that mortgage with no income from the investment? What about if they get sick in your apartment and die? Nothing like passive income to stiffen up the ol bone. A Real Estate crisis usually lags unemployment by 2 to 4 years so that bomb is yet to explode.

Maturity in Facing the Music

I was looking at some population statistics with my fractal idea in mind.

This is China confirmed cases on a log scale

I think China’s data is a load but prior to the arrow I think the data represents some kind of growth curve that represents the virus embedding itself into a population. Everything to the right of the arrow is completely made up. It represents the day the Chinese declared the virus to be over.

Here is Italy

I think this curve represents the natural log fractal of the virus embedding itself into the Italian population. Notice China took off basically on New Years day and Italy took off on Valentines day. Note how the curve is starting to fall over to an asymptote.

This is Iran

Iran started very close to when China started. I think the Iran data is crap as well but none the less it’s harder to hide your crap on a log curve. Notice the curve is falling over toward an asymptote

This is Spain

Spain took off about Valentines day but has a flatter growth meaning it’s growing faster. The more linear the curve, the more parabolic the growth. The more asymptotic the closer the growth goes from parabolic to linear. So what these curves are showing are the changing face of virus penetrance measured within boundaries of countries

Here is South Korea

South Korea had experience with SARS 17 years ago and understood the dynamics. Also there is no social taboo to wearing a mask in S Korea, so the country donned masks. Look at S Korea vs Spain Korea blew up about a week before Spain but has asymptoted its parabolic growth, while Spain continues along a parabolic course.

Here is the US. Look at how the line is a nearly strait line. This means US growth is still nearly perfectly parabolic. This will not begin to be over until our curve looks like South Korea’s curve.

Every day we are parabolic is a day the economy is crashing. It doesn’t matter if business is open or closed the economy is crashing at an exponential rate PERIOD.

There are arguments to just let ‘er rip and get to herd immunity. THIS IS A STUPID IDEA. It presumes all workers are equal. All workers aren’t equal. There is something called the Pareto principal and here is a case where application of Pareto actually makes sense.

A corporations productivity is functionally related to 20% of the employees. 20% account for 80% of the productivity. It doesn’t mean the 20% work harder, it means 20% occupy the spots of critical decision making in the matrix that creates a company’s productivity. Thus a jr engineer might design a perfectly good bridge but a senior project manager understands how to design and specify a bridge that comes in under budget and makes the company money, 2 very different levels of productivity. These positions are not interchangeable and if the senior dies, productivity dies and is not easily replaced. What if half the physicians die? What if half the surgeons die? The long term consequence of let ‘er rip is not trivial and it WILL decimate your portfolio. You won’t be buying the dip you will be the dip. Let’s say we quarantine and try and save those senior engineers or cardiac surgeons. We will live to fight another day.

As it is now our response as far as I can see is let ‘er rip under the window dressing of “concern”. My county has failed to close our beaches, this is let ‘er rip. The first case has been recorded in my town. I live in the country 5 miles outside a small village of about 10K people. If you look at Italy, this will be the growth curve for my town, and over the next couple to three months 300 to 500 of the people in my town will be dead, because we are letting ‘er rip. That’s what the fractal math predicts. No telling how many will get to live a life of permanent respiratory disability. The notion of fractal penetrance is the virus penetrates based on it’s relationship with a human hosts. If it’s 10 human hosts the fractal will occur. If it’s 10K human hosts the fractal will occur. 10M human hosts the fractal will dominate human penetrance. If that’s the truth then it’s a useful bit of knowledge to understand your/our future.

If you think this is going to be a V shaped recovery frankly you’re an idiot. Pandemics last 2 years and the consequence is going to last many more and all the funny money in the world won’t save us. It will only force the price of loaves of bread to $100 in the face of 30% unemployment. I lived through 1973 and it’s stagflation and 1981 and hyper inflation but I think this is 1929 – 1937. Amazon will likely survive but it may be worth $100 a share not $2000 a share. This is what a VIX of over 80 means. The VIX is lower today but the risk is still gargantuan. It’s like a meteor is heading strait toward you and you think moving 10 feet to the left will save you. Exponential math will flat out kick your ass, and multidimensional exponential math, fergitaboutit. Near as I can see there is no past sequence that in any way rhymes with what is unfolding. We won’t know more till the dust settles so if your trying to place bets on a long term basis right now it’s probably more than 50/50 you are throwing your money away. Have you considered the possibility AMZN goes out of business? What if the odds of that are 50/50.

Speaking of music:

Buy and Hold

It’s often claimed market timing never works I read an article today about 1482 CEO’s left their jobs last year during the GREATEST MOST HUMMING ECONOMY OF ALL TIME. They just got up walked to the door jumped and puled the ripcord. 219 more left in Jan 2020 and 9.2B of corporate shares were sold by executives by march 2020. In fact Bob Iger the DIS CEO pretty much just said one Friday “Adios Muchacho!!” You might think about this next time BillyBob over on Boggleheads posts: “we all know market timing never works” Seems to have worked out pretty well for these jokers.


Will Liquidity Work?

Since the 70’s we have been treated to central planners planning our centrals. In the 60’s we had a recession that grew into the inflation of the 70’s which grew into the inflation of the 80’s. The inflation of the 70’s was attempted to be controlled by a command economy, for example you could buy gas on alternate days. Didn’t work. What we got was stagflation. In the 80’s interest rates went to 18% It broke the back of inflation. It nearly broke the country. 18% is what slopped up the excess liquidity. It was effectively the top of the mountain and we have been sliding back down that mountain since 82. We are now at 0, and once again we are flooded with liquidity.

Everybody and his brother is going to be begging for a bailout. Everybody has been practicing bad business practice except maybe Buffet and now when the piper wants paid they want YOU to pay to make them whole. You are inclined to let them because you own part of the bad business practices and their bailout is your bailout, but its stupid to bailout if the bailout doesn’t work. The central banks have no mojo. Bernake and Jellen have destroyed the world and Powell is following suite. It’s all politically driven at this point. Sending people checks won’t help.

We have been under a state of monster inflation for a long time. That inflation has expressed itself in the stock market. When a market moves over 100% off trend in a positive direction either the universe changed or the positive movement is inflation. 3394 was the peak and the inflation is now in deflation. What will happen next IMHO is we will over deflate and re-inflate again except it won’t be in stocks it will be in commodities. We will see the inflation there. We will see it in the price of bread and gas not in a return to 3394.

I read this account from a respiratory therapist treating COVID in NOLO. This is an experienced guy on the front line. RT understands lung disease cold. If I was the brain RT were the skilled hands who made my will happen in the patients life and they have my respect.

Covid-19 RT experience This article should give you some idea of what we are facing in the 20% who have a bad course. According to Cuomo, who has well over 10,000 diagnosed cases, 50% of his infected that are critical are under 50. So if you’ve been playing the odds that this is an old peoples disease and granny lived a good life, you might want to re-access your odds.

Regarding inflation v liquidity. Liquidity is what pumps inflation. So when Mnuchin writes you a check, the price of a loaf sooner or later is going to 10 bux a loaf. Stick that in the risk hopper as well. In 1980 I bought a house and my mortgage was around 12%. That really happened. Do you think you could own property at 12%? Do you think your kid could? Do you think your kid could buy your house at 12%? What does it take to break the back of inflation? What does it take to climb back up the mountain?


First let me say this blog is not monetized or advertized and it is barely read. I write it to keep track of my thoughts during my retirement and to allow you to track my thoughts as well. The feedback from the few who comment informs me as much as I hope what I write informs them. Being not monetized, and the fact I never check analytics gives me a writing environment not encumbered by agenda. I don’t write click bait but some of what I write is provocative. I write about stuff I’m studying and thinking about and my choice of topic is based on what I think is interesting about financing a retirement. I try to avoid politics except the political sometimes enters into retirement reality BIG TIME. This is one of those times.

It’s all very interesting. Big ERN is still taking my feedback on his bog for which I am grateful. I consider ERN a blogging buddy and smart as hell and I give his advice considerable merit. I think I have something to say and I hope what I say and because my opinion is considerably different than the prevailing “buy the dip” understanding of reality, it gives his readers some counter point when trying to decide what is going on. Others like CD takes my posts as well. CD is a hell of a writer and always refreshing and is the ultimate UN-Boilerplate in a blogoland full of boilerplate and tripe.

I have posted to Financial Samurai in the past. He no longer takes my posts, which is fair enough but telling about his agenda. His blog seems to be about promoting a dogma as opposed to engaging in discussion and acquiring knowledge. He feels himself a financial mastermind peddling his masterful knowledge to the mere masses. In the mean time he’s about to unFIRE and go back to work because he figured out his 50 year retirement narrative doesn’t work, and he’s smart enough to get it and then change it, and honest enough to share that with his readers. That takes cojones, and will be his secret to success. He’s front running the train.

I was over there this week and he wrote this:

4) Financial Samurai traffic is down ~20% YoY. Instead of Financial Samurai benefitting from fear and uncertainty in the stock market and economy, it looks like more people would rather stay as far away from anything finance-related as possible. It feels better not to look at your finances when they’re getting clobbered, so people don’t.

People also tend to stop trying to educate themselves as it’s simply too painful a time period. With a decline in traffic comes a commensurate decline in revenue. If finance-related companies start shutting down, revenue will decline even further.

Again I have to hand it to Sam as he rationalizes the death of his golden goose. It’s not that his financial advice that is bullshit, its his readers who are no longer interested that are bullshit. It’s not his overexposure to leverage that is his problem, and so he has yet to come to terms with reality. He started his blog in 2011 and the market has gone strait up in those 9 years. He’s made money in real estate and finance and glories in his non frugality, which is fine by me, but a $300K financed lifestyle in a market that’s going up isn’t that big of a trick. The trick is living a $300K/yr financed lifestyle when the market is blowing up. It’s the Buffet perspective. You know who is swimming naked when the tide goes out. I think old Sammy’s narrative has gone and bit him in the naked ass, but my hat is off because he is man enough to admit it. It’s in the volatility we all learn the truth. The path to success is only understood by the experience of and response to failure. We are in the middle of one MOTHER of a failure and he’s kvetching about his analytics being down 20%. He hasn’t seen anything yet. The unemployment rate is going to 20% and the GDP is projected to be down 24% this quarter. They are optimistic the year ends flat. I’m not that optimistic. Neither am I surprised that people are not tuning in for the latest “how to make a million dollars in your spare time with crowd funding scheme” when job loss makes being able to feed the family a problem.

I’ve surveyed a few other FIRE blogs. DiversFI is still pumping out podcasts about living the life. It’s audio of “the oh so smart” engaged in their own delusion. I got better things to do with an hour much less an hour a week. Our Next Life is writing Our Next Book which will sell zero copies. Who the F*** cares about some middle aged chick with red hair’s take on “living with liberal purpose in the land of plenty” when it’s unclear if your are going to spend the rest of your liberal life living as a respiratory cripple or even live at all, much less whether you will have the funds to do that? It’s shear arrogance. I wonder what’s happened to her analytics.

Dropped by WCI and found the latest boilerplate “classic article” on “6 things to do in a bear market”. What a hoot! A 24% projected drop in GDP and 20% projected unemployment and a world wide pandemic and he thinks we are in a boilerplate bear market! Are you really going to model your life after this idiot? Physician Philosopher is “buying and holding” with the best of them. Jimmy has about 2 years of investing experience. Hopefully if he doesn’t die his portfolio will come back. At least he is pretty smart about having insurance except what if there are no insurance companies? Going to be a LOT of claims I do believe. Jimmy’s a big fan of Pareto, 20% account for 80% and presumes himself part of the 20%. What if he really is part of the 80%? Statistically it’s more likely to be an 80%er than a 20%er. PoF’s latest is on “how much time it takes to manage your own rental property” Guess it won’t matter much of there are no tenants. If you’re levered much you might consider dropping the keys in the mailbox and just walking away. That takes seconds. Get Rich Slowly is heading underground

Believe it or not, the current coronavirus crisis is affecting Get Rich Slowly too. Things are slow around here. Traffic is down. Revenue is down. Production is down. Plus, I have a big deadline at the end of the month. My project for Audible and The Great Courses is due on March 31st.

So, just like the rest of the world, we’re going to press “pause” for a couple of weeks. I will return next Wednesday with my annual birthday article, but you’ll have to scroll down to see it. I’m going to pin this post to the top of the front page

Revenue is down so time to do more profitable things than write blogs about Armageddon that might hurt the brand. Actually a pretty smart move. I think JD is a smart guy. I stopped by MMM what a treat! In true MMM format he’s trying to sell you shit! Pure shit. Stick that in your mustachian and smoke it! (Mustachian does sound like some kind of hookah) Damn the torpedoes full steam ahead screaming 4 x 25 all the way!

The NIH is projecting 70K cases by next week and it’s already Saturday and these bozo’s are telling you how to best fund the 529. Now you see FIRE as it really is. A quaint technique that works during a period of gross if not obscene abundance. When the abundance dies the FIRE goes out. Completely disconnected from reality. Completely worthless in the pinch. Completely without credible risk management. Their advice “when the train is barreling down on you, stand your ground!” Personally I’d get off the tracks. I’m not sure getting run over by a train is good risk management.

The county will survive but I think a very different landscape will present on the other side after the storm passes. I’ve been through a lot of hurricanes. There is permanent and unrepairable damage that occurs. I think permanent damage to the machine will happen to the extent the plumbing will need rebuilding world wide. It’s time to stay humble and try to separate reality from fantasy. The media is not your friend. The media including FIRE bloggers wants to sell you My Pillows and their agenda.