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?
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….]
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.]
A recent article in the Orange County Register reminded Rocky of the glory days from Baywatch , (the most-watched TV show of all time.)
The newspaper article explained that being a REAL lifeguard may be a better gig than being a TV lifeguard!
From the newspaper story: “According to a city report on lifeguard pay for the calendar year 2010, of the 14 full-time lifeguards, 13 collected more than $120,000 in total compensation; one lifeguard collected $98,160.65. More than half the lifeguards collected more than $150,000 for 2010 with the two highest-paid collecting $211,451 and $203,481 in total compensation respectively. Even excluding benefits like health care and pension, more than half the lifeguards receive a total salary, including overtime pay, exceeding $100,000. And they also receive an annual allowance of $400 for “Sun Protection.” Many work four days a week, 10 hours a day.
The article continues: “On face, the compensation packages for these guards are staggering. But take into consideration the retirement benefits being paid to currently retired lifeguards and lifeguards who will retire at these pay levels in the future and the problem is further compounded. Lifeguards are able to retire with 90 percent of their salary, after only 30 years of work at as early as the age of 50.”
The entire story can be found here: http://orangepunch.ocregister.com/2011/05/10/lifeguarding-in-oc-is-totally-lucrative-some-make-over-200k/44783/
[Disclosure: Although Orange County generously provides a $400 “sun protection” allowance, Rocky notes that they do not yet provide a plastic surgery allowance. Pamela Anderson wannabes should take note…]
Rocky tips his hat to the uber-quants at Barclays Capital for creating an “index” (fund) that only Cramer (of Seinfeld fame– not Mad Money fame) could have dreamed up.
From their website: (see: https://ecommerce.barcap.com/indices/index.dxml )
The Barclays Capital TOM™ Long Index invests in the relevant underlying equity benchmark Index on the close of the 4th business day before each month end and closes this position 3 business days after the same month end. The Long Index is not invested during the rest of the month.
The Barclays Capital TOM™ Long/Short Index takes a short equity position on the close of the 11th last business day before each month-end and closes this position on the 5th last business day before month-end. It then takes a long position Index on the close of the 4th last business day before each month end and closes this position 3 business days after the same month end. The long/short index is not invested during the rest of the month.
BarCap also has a series of funds aptly named the “Barclays Capital Astro Index.” This inspired Rocky to propose the following variations of this bizarre approach towards so-called “investing”:
1. The Rocky Moon Fund (Buy on the New Moon, Sell on the Full Moon).
2. The Rocky Blue Moon Fund (Sell EVERYTHING on the Blue Moon, buy it all back 1 day later).
3. The Rocky Lunar Eclipse Fund (Buy on the eclipse, sell 2 hours later).
4. The Rocky Solar Eclipse Fund (Stare at a solar eclipse and buy health care stocks.)
[Disclosure: Rocky acknowledges that markets rise and markets fall. But flipping a coin may well be a better approach than investing based on the day of the month. Statistics don’t lie. People lie with statistics. ]
Inflation, says Rocky, are rising prices for the things that you WANT to buy. Deflation, says Rocky, are declining prices for the things that you DON’T WANT to buy.
Although it uses a more analytically rigorous definition, there are many problems with the government’s Consumer Price Index (CPI).
It’s exciting to announce that MIT has gone live with it’s “Billion Price Project” (BPP) — which monitors daily prices of 5 million items sold by 300 online retailers!
Here’s the link to the Billion Price Project: http://bpp.mit.edu/
[Disclosure: It costs the Labor Department $234 million each year to calculate the CPI, and it’s only reported once each month. For more details, see: http://www.slate.com/id/2278623/ ]
Mrs. Picower voluntarily agreed to return $7.2 Billion to the Madoff Trustee Recovery Fund. As one of the largest beneficiaries of the fraud, she made the correct moral choice — but what was her real motivation?
Rocky figured this out!
He discovered that Mrs. Picower’s copy of Quicken Personal Finance Software crashed.
Quicken cannot handle dollar amounts larger than $99,999,999.99. Hence the $7,200,000,000.00 sitting in Mrs. Picower’s account was causing her computer to crash!
Rather than rebooting the computer, she decided to boot the cash to the other victims. For technical details, see: http://quicken.intuit.com/support/articles/using-quicken/reports-and-graphs/483.html (The technical term is “maximum supported value.”)
[Disclosure: It’s difficult to imagine a checking account balance of $7.2 Billion. It’s even more shocking to realize that at 1% interest rates, she’s accruing interest at $200,000 per day! It’s worth noting that TurboTax does not list a “maximum supported value” so Internal Revenue Service Agents can relax…]