Fear and Loathing in the Newsletter Business

Dear Diary,

We read through our mail this morning. As you can imagine, we get many letters from readers. We can’t reply to them individually, but we read every one.

Then we look for a rope and a stool…

We’ll come back to this topic in a minute. First, we set the scene. We are staying at the Mount Juliet Hotel in County Kilkenny, about 80 miles south of Dublin. Through our window, we see a lowing herd ‘winding slowly o’er the lea’. A swift running black-blue stream separates the hotel from the green field. It is cold and rainy.

Inside: floral carpets…large, cushy chairs with embroidered pillows…bric-a-brac adorning large marble fireplaces with Greek-looking motifs. A typical Anglo-Irish Georgian manor home, in other words.

Into the dining room come aged Americans. They’re on a summer tour of Ireland. From the accents, we judge them to be from the Greater Boston area — most likely McCarthys, Murphys and O’Donnells with ancient family memories of Ireland as it never really was.

And there, stage right, at a small table, with a white tablecloth, next to the window, a not-so-young grandson of Ireland sits staring out the window, pondering. That would be your editor.

And what he is pondering is whether there is a German word to describe the moment you want to slit your wrists…when you realize how painful and desolate private life can be…and when you recognize that all that lies behind you are empty words and poured-out wine bottles…and all that lies ahead are old age and death…

…and you give up all hope.

Surely, the Germans — who, after all, produced Nietzsche and Schopenhauer — have thought up a word for it. It must be something every thoughtful and sensitive person has experienced at one time or another. Which, of course, leaves out 99% of the sitting members of Congress…and probably most voters, too.

But the financial world is our beat. So, let us return to it for just long enough to mention that nothing worth mentioning happened yesterday.

The Dow rose again. And US bond yields are still so low you have to go all the way along the yield curve to five years out before you encounter a whole number.

Now, back to our thoughts…

Some reader feedback

Your editor is accustomed to gloomy days and gloomier thoughts. That is his job: to fear the worst and look ahead, to try to see it coming.

But he was laid especially low by today’s correspondence.

Of course, there are extenuating circumstances. We have many new readers…following the recent launch of our new letter. They have paid good money for our thoughts and ideas. But many of them lack the context to fully appreciate them.

They are coming into a conversation that began 15 years ago. Or longer…

One letter begins:

I’ve known you since 1984. That was the year I subscribed to Strategic Investment and, like my exposure to Harry Browne, proved to be one of my life’s pivotal experiences.

Naturally, some new readers are disoriented. And disappointed. And yes — we should have done a better job of explaining where we are coming from…

Broadly, there are two categories of dear readers: There are those who are too smart. And those who are too dumb.

The too smart ones catch all our mistakes. They notice our occasional lazy analysis and lack of rigorous thinking…and our errors in arithmetic, grammar and historical facts. We can’t get away with anything.

For example, one wrote to correct our math: ‘If the world’s supply of food fell by 10%, 700 million would starve, not 70 million.

Another to correct our grasp of late 18th century Scots dialect: ‘…it’s either Robert Burns or Robbie Burns, not Bobby. And the quote is ‘Gang aft agley.’

The too dumb ones generally just miss the point. But here we take the high road – insincerely admitting that if readers don’t understand we have done a bad job of explaining.

A class of their own

Some super smart, some super dumb…and some in a class of their own:

I’m reading Hormegeddon, which I received after subscribing to your newsletter, and have found it interesting although occasionally off-base.

However, I’ve just reached page 149 which has your graph of world energy consumption that shows Nuclear and Hydro-electric as the two top sources.

REALLY!! You have just lost all credibility. I will not read another page, and will do my best to spread the word that you are completely full of [sh**]. If Bonner is as wealthy as you claim I can only assume that he made his money by ripping off unaware marks like me. Stansberry should be ashamed to associate with dirt bags like you.

To many questions we answer ‘yes’. Some remarks bring a ‘no’. To others, we can only reply with a ‘huh?’:

RE: This country is completely f**cked up 8/15

Do not appreciate the words used in your commentary. Even if somebody else said them. You do not have to repeat them. SHAME ON YOU.

Oh, my. We look out the window and sigh.

There go the Americans…the silly old duffers. They are loading them on the Tauck tour bus, the seventy-somethings creaking up the stairs.

But they are so cheerful…so happy! Surely, they have lost their minds.

More tomorrow…


Bill Bonner
For Markets and Money

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Since founding Agora Inc. in 1979, Bill Bonner has found success and garnered camaraderie in numerous communities and industries. A man of many talents, his entrepreneurial savvy, unique writings, philanthropic undertakings, and preservationist activities have all been recognized and awarded by some of America’s most respected authorities. Along with Addison Wiggin, his friend and colleague, Bill has written two New York Times best-selling books, Financial Reckoning Day and Empire of Debt. Both works have been critically acclaimed internationally. With political journalist Lila Rajiva, he wrote his third New York Times best-selling book, Mobs, Messiahs and Markets, which offers concrete advice on how to avoid the public spectacle of modern finance. Since 1999, Bill has been a daily contributor and the driving force behind Markets and Money.

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