A short message after a long day…
Anything happen while we were away?
Not that we can see. We checked the news reports yesterday afternoon, after we drove in to Salta. Stocks seem to have edged up. Gold has slipped a little. Bonds still look like they’ve entered a bear market.
Nothing really new.
Apparently, more people still believe in ‘recovery’ than in the virgin birth… We’ll come back to that in a minute. First, we want to tell you about our trip. We just came back from the ranch yesterday. Dusty, tired…but glad we went.
The ranch is a long way from anywhere. It is cut off from modern civilization. You might say it is cut off from civilization of any sort.
On Monday, we rode 4 hours to see Ileena, a woman of about 75 who lives alone on a remote plateau up in the mountains. She grows corn and milks goats. She dries fruit. No electricity. No indoor plumbing. No central heating. As near as we can tell she lives the same way people have lived there for hundreds of years.
It must be lonely, though.
Then, on Tuesday, we met the teachers at the local school. One of them has been at her post for 26 years…only leaving the ranch about once every three months. Last weekend, she was so desperate for a change of company that she walked 6 hours to the ranch next door.
Then, on Wednesday, the casket arrived. The old Chevy truck made a deep, rumbling noise as it came up the driveway…like death himself, just outside the door, clearing his throat before knocking.
Yes, dear reader, we have some stories to tell. Life, death, sex…loneliness, desperation… there are no TVs in the high valley. But they don’t need them. You can find all the drama you want…just open your eyes.
In the meantime, last week, we went to a bootmaker in Salta. The old man showed us a pair of red boots.
“Here, try these on. I made them for a big norte-americano like you.”
We put them on. But they were a tad too large. Then, we saw the initials on the order form.
“Who are you making these for?” we asked.
“A fellow named Casey. Dooglas Casey.”
Ah, now we know for sure. We could never fill Doug Casey’s boots.
We had dinner with our old friend before leaving for the ranch.
“The situation is worse than even I thought it was,” said Doug.
But Doug didn’t seem any more worried about it than we are.
This is the strange bifurcation in today’s financial world. Those of us who bother to think about it (both of us) believe there’s trouble coming. You can’t de-leverage a 60-year credit expansion in just a few months. You can’t correct a debt problem by adding more debt. And you can’t fix the private sector by beefing up the public sector.
Still, the ‘recovery’ has gone on for so long we’ve forgot what the crisis felt like. Remember in the fall of ’08…when stocks were crashing and Lehman went bust? Fear…and loathing. Deep down. Dreadful. Terrifying. That’s what people felt back then. It was the ‘end of the world.’ The day of reckoning had come…
Fear makes you do things you don’t want to do. It makes you cut expenses…cut projects…cancel vacations…trim…tighten… All the things you knew you should do but really don’t want to do.
But as soon as the fear subsides, you’re able to shelve those plans and get back to doing what you were doing before. Even if the causes for the fear are still there…and even if you understand them and see them clearly.
Probing our own feelings the other day, we realized that we were no longer afraid. As near as we can tell, the Great Correction is developing as it should. But the rebound has lasted longer and gone further than we expected. It’s taken the edge off fear. The Dow is over 11,100…bond yields are still near record lows…and more people believe the feds have mastered the art of crisis control than believe in the virgin birth.
But the risks are still there. Sooner or later they will express themselves.
Again, stay tuned.
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