We read through our post 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 golf resort, near Waterford, Ireland. 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, Elizabethan bric-a-brac adorning large marble fireplaces with Greekish motifs – this looks like a typical late 19th century grand Anglo-Irish house, in other words.
Into the dining room come aged Americans 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, wondering.
That would be your editor.
And what he is wondering about at that particular moment is whether there is a German word to describe the moment in which you want to slit your wrist, the moment when you realise how painful and desolate private life can be, when you recognise that all that lies behind you are empty words and poured-out wine bottles and all that lies ahead is old age and death and you give up all hope.
Surely, the Germans have 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 of the 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 bond yields are still so low that you have to go all the way up the yield curve to five years out before you encounter a whole number.
Now, back to our thoughts…
Your editor is accustomed to gloomy days and gloomier thoughts. That is his job – to fear the worst and look ahead, trying 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. And some of them have paid good money for our thoughts. Many of them lack 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, which we’ll come to.
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 lazy analysis, the lack of real research or rigorous thinking, errors in arithmetic, grammar, and historical facts. We can’t get away with anything.
For example, one wrote to correct our maths: “if the supply of food fell by 10%, 700 million would starve, not 70 million.”
Another: “…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.
Some super smart, some super dumb and some in a class by themselves: “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.
And there go the Americans, the silly, old duffers. They are loading them on the Tauck tour bus, the 70-somethings creaking up the stairs.
But they are so cheerful! So happy. Surely, they have lost their minds.