Tuesday, May 29, 2012

Lost and Found

The older you get, you might find that the term “treasure” takes on an entirely new meaning. When you were younger you probably remember going grocery shopping with that favorite relative and longed for that candy bar or box of cereal with a prize inside. At that point you found yourself begging and pleading, all the while knowing that the fate of obtaining the treasure was in someone else’s hand.

Unfortunately, even if the outcome was positive the thrill became short lived and soon another apple of your eye would take focus. We were once again off on another search. You might see the pattern here and recognize that your life has continued on that same general path which was learned early on.

When you find yourself a little older and some may say wiser, you might choose to decide it is prudent to take a little breather from the physical hunt for stuff. After all it is and can be quite tiring. In times like these you often take an introspective look at not only yourself and what your future holds but it is hard not to glace at your past as well.

A common way some are looking into this window is through the phenomenon known as Facebook. For the present generation this is a communication tool to instantly share a thought or a feeling. For the people of past generations it is a way of finding people that they lost through the passage of time and some how wish to reconnect.

The younger generation of today snickers a little when they are told that the older generation, to communicate, would often write a letter and mail it, which is called snail mail because it is considered so slow. Yet the same electronic version minus the paper is considered, somehow new and improved. Alas, because of technology we have texting, private messaging and tweeting! Is this really a true improvement to communication or a way of avoidance?

While it is hard to know what the future holds, it appears we are getting more impersonal. Call me old fashion but I for one am not convinced that “social media” is not all that it claims to be. I’m totally convinced that if you wanted to you could spend practically your entire life online! Your rush to connect electronically can sometimes and I would say often does ultimately mean your disconnection from everyday society and real people.

Through technology it is claimed that the world is smaller because we can talk to and communicate instantly to practically anyone, anywhere. Yet, I would contend, that we are more isolated now than in any other time in history.

So, who is really lost in the world today? Do we have the ability to find them? I’m not talking about needing a global positioning system either. My question is: have we missed the point of the real treasure in our lives? Are we searching in the right place? Are we using the right tools?

In the end only you can determine if you have the answer to this puzzle. It’s my hope, however, that you will choose wisely and be the one that is found not ultimately lost!

Tuesday, May 8, 2012

Rock, Paper and Precious Metals

Without sounding like a commercial it is hard not to notice all the uncertainty around the world. Yet people still look to the United States for stability.

At the moment we have been giving the license to print unlimited amounts of money, but obviously the game is rigged and at some point a collapse and reset has to happen. I'm sure the blame will be placed at our feet soon enough. Regardless of what some political figures think you can't borrow money and spend your way into prosperity nor can you do it by taxing all who you think are rich so you can redistribute the wealth. Winston Churchill hit the nail on the head when he said: "We contend that for a nation to try to tax itself into prosperity is like a man standing in a bucket and trying to lift himself up by the handle."

Quantitative easing(QE)version 3 in on its way as Uncle Ben is cranking the handle on the jack-in-the-box. We all know it will eventually pop out of the box and I'm sure, scare the hell out of most people who will be watching it happen. Sadly most people won't care or even bother to notice.

Likewise, the Federal Reserve has no other option they are willing to try. To use a dairy analogy, the Federal Reserve is trying to create a constant flow of milk, no matter how many cows they kill! Instead of the natural process they are genetically manipulating the system through artificially insemination. All the while we are told that everything is normal, we are in a recovery. The tit has been milked borrowing more money, bailing out all the banks as well as everyone else that needs it. It's all part of the process, they say, just relax. It is for the greater good you know! Remember just pass the bill and then read the contents later, trust and never verify. Have a little hope, come on lighten up!

Then you hear Berkshire Hathway's Vice Chairman Charles Munger make a comment saying: "Gold is a great thing to sew into your garments if you're a Jewish family in Vienna in 1939," the Berkshire vice chairman said, but I think civilized people don't buy gold, they invest in productive businesses." Now obviously I understand what the man is saying, he wants to see a productive asset. There is nothing wrong with that. Yet, it helps to be reminded that when you have billions to play with you can afford to make a lot of mistakes and still recover.

With all due respect, however, in this torrential rainstorm we call the US economy I for one at least favor a nice sturdy umbrella of gold and silver versus a bushel basket of paper or electronic entries. I'd rather sit and let the storm blow over or at least know at the very least which way the wind is blowing before venturing out. It appears a lot more people feel the same way as I do as well.

There are certain things in life as you grow older you remember and reflect on. Some people might say you become more jaded. Others might say, with age, comes wisdom. Regardless, you have to apply what you have learned in order for it to be of any use.

Pondering aloud, it's amazing how millions of dollars are spent annually trying to evoke a feeling or thought! Think about that it for a second by what you smell. Perfume is just one example; who really thought it was a bright idea to come up with the term toilet water? Oh, excuse me, I mean Eau de toilette, that sounds much more sophisticated doesn't it. What about when you go to someone's house and you smell potpourri in the air; doesn't that just bother you a little and make you wonder what they are trying to hide?

It is like reading the labels on the back of the can or box of stuff you just ate. You really don't want to know what is in it do you?

Crap by any other name is just that my friends, crap, it doesn't matter what it smells like we all know what end of the horse it came out of, so stop pretending.

Finally, if you are looking for market stability in our economy stop comparing the midgets in the room and step into the real world and open your eyes for a moment.

Oh yea, and watch where you step!