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Posts Tagged ‘commodities’

Investment advice for Ron Paul

December 30, 2011 Comments off

Rocky never provides investment advice. But for once he’ll violate this  rule and offer some advice to Congressman Ron Paul.

Members of Congress must file financial disclosure forms which show all of their assets and investments. Rocky studied Rep. Paul’s portfolio from 2003 to the present. http://www.legistorm.com/memberdisclosure/413/Rep_Ron_Paul_TX.html

Ron Paul’s portfolio violates every principle of sound money management. It is not prudent. It is not sensible. It is volatile. It is speculative. And it may give a window into Ron Paul’s perspective on the economy and free enterprise.

From 2003 to the present, Ron Paul’s stock portfolio owned only gold stocks. He owned some real estate. He had some cash. And he owned mutual funds that make money ONLY WHEN the stock market declines. He did not own any gold bullion. And more recently, he purchased more gold mining stocks and added to his bearish bets on the stock market using leveraged bearish funds.

In 2003, the value of his portfolio was between $860,000 and $2,300,00. (The disclosure form only provides a range of  values.)  In 2010, his portfolio grew to $2.4 million and $5.5 million.  (Gold stocks have declined between 15% and 30% in 2011, so his portfolio has declined commensurately. He will declare that loss next year.)

So, over an an 8-year period his portfolio has appreciated by about 12%/year. (And after this year’s losses for gold mining stocks, it will be a bit less than that.)

Not so bad, eh?

Nope!

If, instead of being such a wiseguy, he had instead just purchased gold bullion, his return would have been 55% better — returning an impressive 18.5% per year!  (It’s very strange that Ron Paul doesn’t own any bullion. And a skeptic might wonder whether he owns bullion, but failed to disclose it.)

[Disclosure: If one extrapolates the profile of his portfolio, one must conclude that he either nailed the bottom of the gold market, or he has really lousy long term performance. Remember that (even after this 10 year old rally) gold has appreciated at only about 5% for the past 30 years, while stocks have returned about 11%, and long bonds have returned high single digits. More troubling, however, is the notion that a  President of the United States would personally profit from a DECLINING stock market and a declining economy! Even Barack Obama’s assets include some S&P Index Funds….]

What to do with an old computer?

October 10, 2011 2 comments

An old Dell computer has sat in the corner of Rocky’s home library for months. Rocky promised Trophy Wife that this unsightly dust magnet would eventually “disappear,” yet even Rocky’s trusted Computer Guru won’t carry the box away. The Computer Guru explained that no charity would want such a relic.

What to do? Rocky lists some possible uses for the “low profile” desktop computer:

1. It weighs about 15 pounds. Perhaps it can be used as a “medicine ball” … to be tossed back-and-forth in the gym?

2. In lieu of bricks, it could be placed in the trunk of a car…providing added traction for winter driving.

3. It can be donated to Habitat For Humanity and used as a substitute concrete block for new construction.

4. It can serve as a step stool to reach the top shelf in the pantry.

5. It can be used as a space heater to warm up the bathroom floor on cold mornings.

6. It can serve as a standing platform for meditation and yoga. Alternatively, smashed with a sledge hammer, it can provide a more effective release for life’s frustrations.

7. It could be buried in the backyard as a time capsule for future generations to find.

 

 

Rocky’s (latest) view on gold

August 23, 2011 5 comments

Knowing that he’s been a gold bull for years, Rocky’s friends keep asking: “What you do think of gold, NOW?” (These people actually think that Rocky and certain other TV commentators can  predict the future.)

Rocky’s answer: “I have no idea, and have NEVER had any idea about what the price of gold will do tomorrow.”

But does he still own gold?

“Yes, and I also own some stocks. And I own some real estate. And I own some bonds. And I own a copy of last week’s People Magazine. And I have no idea what the price of these will do tomorrow either.  My experience has been that pundits who claim perfect knowledge of the future are generally either liars or idiots. (Whoopi Goldberg is the exception to this rule.)  What I’m doing is called diversification.”

But when will he sell gold?

“The PRICE of gold is irrelevant. As I’ve written on this blog, I will sell gold when the gold story (or more accurately, the market’s perception of the gold story) changes!  Gold’s ascent is a confluence of negative real interest rates; undisciplined central bank behavior; a growing loss of confidence in government policies and financial systems; loss of Swiss bank secrecy; an accumulation of economic wealth by individuals in parts of the world without stable property rights and rule of law. Can gold drop $100 tomorrow? Sure it can! Can gold drop $300 next week? Sure it can!  Can gold drop $1000 next year? Sure it can! But so long as these FUNDAMENTAL  factors remain in place, the underpinnings and demand for hard assets that are beyond the reach of governments will remain.”

“Almost all of my really smart friends are very bearish right now. They all think this move is idiotic. Many think this is a bubble. And eventually they will be right. But eventually could be a really really long time. And it could include a trip to unimaginably higher prices first.  Their skepticism is not predictive of anything.  And importantly, they are not betting that gold will decline either. All it tells you is that they aren’t long gold and missed this move.  I’ll admit that I get nervous when prices rise quickly.  And historically, buying after a sharp rally isn’t a good idea. But why should any of this market chatter affect my long-term porfolio construction/diversification?  After all, I’m not afraid to admit that I have absolutely no idea what prices will do tomorrow.”

[Disclosure: Rocky NEVER gives investment advice. He’s owned gold for a long time. And he owns some hedges that will protect him if gold drops sharply while he’s asleep. And some day, he will sell his gold. But whether it’s at $2,000/oz or $10,000/oz is out of his control. It’s in the control of  millions of other investors around the world, and how they react to the policies of their central banks and governments.]

Lady Marmalade

May 19, 2011 2 comments

Skinflint. Miser. Penny-pincher. Frugal.  Tightwad.

All of these adjectives describe Rocky in most matters. However, Rocky throws open his wallet and spares no expense for three important purchase categories:  automobile tires, bath towels, and orange marmalade.

During her recent two-day trip to London, Trophy Wife’s marching orders were clear: find a jar of Fortnum & Mason’s finest Orange Marmalade, and carry it home for Rocky’s (discount) crackers and crumpets. 

Trophy Wife scored a bottle of “Wake-Up Marmalade”  early in the day, and all was well until Heathrow Airport Security seized the jar from her luggage as a “security threat.” Horrified, humiliated, and fearing the “Wrath of Rocky,” she ran to the Airport’s Duty-Free Shop, where she fortuitously found the marmalade section next to the Cuban cigars and over-priced single malt scotch. Unfortunately, the Duty-Free Shop’s marmalade selection was sparse, and she  selected a jar of Sir Nigel’s Orange Marmalade.  (Fortnum & Mason produces more than 40 marmalade varieties.)

From the marmalade bottle: “Noted 1920’s actor-manager, Sir Nigel Playfair was used to getting what he wanted – like the thick-cut, tough-guy marmalade remembered from his childhood rather than the effete flapper versions fashionable at the time.”

After sampling the marvelous marmalade on generic Stop&Shop water biscuits, Rocky agreed that he would no longer consume “effete” American marmalade . A tough guy like Rocky deserves  a tough-guy marmalade. But in a show of tenderness, Rocky thanked Trophy Wife profusely for her valiant efforts, and gave her a sticky peck on the cheek.

[Disclosure: Terrorists should note that airport security will detect explosives dissolved in blood orange marmalade . ]

CPI shows women & children first?

April 15, 2011 2 comments

The Captain of the Titanic supposedly said, “Women and children first!” when directing his passengers to the lifeboats.

Rocky, (hardly a chivalrous fellow), thinks recent Consumer Price Index data demonstrate “Women and Children LAST!”

He notes that women’s and children’s apparel prices are declining at a noticeably faster rate than men’s apparel prices. (See the bottom three lines of the chart above.) Although Rocky continues to wear the same ragged grey sweater and chinos, Trophy Wife may find this data to be an impetus for a visit to the shopping mall.

Rocky theorizes that women can wear men’s clothes (which support the price of shirts and pants), whereas most men wouldn’t be caught dead wearing a dress or skirt. However, if this trend continues, Rocky’s miserly nature will prevail, and he’ll try on a kilt or two.

Efficient markets meet efficient yogurts

March 7, 2011 2 comments

At the behest of his daughter, Rocky sampled his first “Pinkberry” frozen yogurt in New York City’s Greenwich Village on Sunday. Pinkberry has a cult following, and it was time for Rocky to audition for the cult.

The small cup of plain with two toppings cost $6.25 — and while Rocky found the concoction uninspiring — he found the profit potential intriguing.

An unscientific 10 minute demographic survey revealed all of the customers in the store were ultra-skinny women under the age of 30 and just one skinny man (whose attire and makeup were sexually ambiguous.)  Judging from their fluency in Pinkberry nomenclature, all were regular customers. The tiny store was grossing over $300/hour — on a cold, rainy March afternoon!

Rocky started salivating. Not from the yogurt. From the profit potential!

But before he could grow lascivious about live cultures, Rocky looked out the window and noticed two stores across the street with “Opening Soon” banners in their window.  Red Mango and “YourGurt” had Pinkberry’s prodigious profits in their sights.  A frozen yogurt war would soon commence — and monopoly yogurt profits would undoubtedly become the first casualty….

[Disclosure: All that glitters isn’t gold, and all that shines isn’t Pinkberry pomegranate with strawberries. But the jingle is worth a listen: click here. ]

Rocky’s coif makes the Financial Times

February 24, 2011 3 comments
Rocky’s daughter insists that Rocky is fake. He has a fake name. He has fake friends. He even has fake hair.
On the last point, a real reporter at the Financial Times agrees. Ms. Lindsay Whipp wrote a serious article in Wednesday’s FT about Japanese Government Bonds and quoted Rocky:

The bald facts

Numerous investors who have shorted the Japanese government bond market have lost lots of money, writes Lindsay Whipp.
Some, such as US-based hedge fund manager who writes a blog under the pen name Rocky Humbert, literally lost their hair.
In 1996-97, he took a bearish view on JGBs. He recalls: “I aged badly, went bald and kept waking up my wife to check my Bloomberg.”
However, he had a very profitable 2008, having learnt “how markets can move in ways that don’t make sense to ‘reasonable’ people”.
[Disclosure: So is Rocky “real?” As the Clairol ad goes: Only his hairdresser knows for sure!]