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The Marginal Buyer Holds The Pin That Pops Every Asset Bubble

So it's important to watch him very closely
Friday, August 19, 2016, 2:01 AM

Those of you who took an Economics class in college may remember the saying that prices are set "at the margin". That's a fancy way to say that prices are set by the person (or people) willing to pay the most.

This person willing to pay top dollar is called the "marginal buyer". Most of us don't really think about him, but he (or she) is very, very important.

Why? Because the marginal buyer not only determines price levels, but also their stability and degree of volatility. The behavior of the marginal buyer, as well as the degree of competition for his/her "top dog" spot, sets the prices of nearly every asset class held by today's investors. » Read more

Insider

How To Beat Inflation

Protecting the purchasing power of your wealth
Friday, July 29, 2016, 3:31 PM

Executive Summary

  • Taking Advantage of Subsidies
  • The Importance of Adding New Income Streams
  • Income-Producing Assets
  • Hedges, Cost-Controls & Other Strategies

If you have not yet read Part 1: The Burrito Index: Consumer Prices Have Soared 160% Since 2001, available free to all readers, please click here to read it first.

In Part 1, we compared official rates of inflation with hard data from the real world, and found that it’s not just the cost of burritos that has soared over 100% while inflation has supposedly been trundling along at 1% or 2% per year. The real killer is the soaring cost of big-ticket essentials such as rent, higher education and healthcare.

So what can we do about it? There are only a few strategies that can make a real difference: either qualify for subsidies (i.e. lower household income), own assets and income streams that keep up with real-world inflation, or radically reduce the cost structure of big-ticket household expenses.

Qualify for Subsidies

Though it runs counter to our philosophy of self-reliance, we have to address incentives offered by the system we inhabit. One powerful set of incentives is entitlement subsidies for lower income households: rent subsidies (Section 8), healthcare subsidies (Medicaid and ACA/Obamacare), college tuition waivers, food subsidies (food stamps), free school lunches, and so on.

These programs were designed to aid households that cannot earn more income, but for households on the borderline between paying full freight (no subsidies) and receiving some subsidies, it makes sense to work less, earn less and qualify for substantial subsidies.

I am not recommending gaming the system, I am simply noting that subsidies exist and those who earn just above qualifying incomes are in effect punished for earning a bit too much.

In many cases, we assume subsidies are reserved for “poor people” and we don’t qualify. For entitlements such as food stamps (SNAP), this is generally the case. But other programs offer some subsidies to households with incomes that are substantial... » Read more

Insider

How My Personal Portfolio Is Positioned Right Now

You've asked. I answer.
Friday, June 24, 2016, 4:46 PM

Executive Summary

If you have not yet read Part 1: Fortunes Will Be Made & Lost When Capital Flees To Safety available free to all readers, please click here to read it first.

So, given the conclusions in Part 1 -- as well as the larger risks to the economy and financial markets that we analyze daily here at Peak Prosperity -- how am I positioning my own personal investments?

I get asked this question often. Often enough that I'm deciding to open the kimono here and let it drop to the ground. Everyone interested to look will get the full frontal.

Before I do though, let me make a few things absolutely clear. This is NOT personal financial advice. The investment choices I've made are based on my own unique situation, financial goals and risk tolerance. And I may change these choices at any moment given new market developments. What's appropriate for me may not be for you, so DO NOT blindly duplicate what I'm doing.

As always, we recommend working with a professional financial adviser to build an investment plan customized to your own needs and objectives. (If you do not have a financial adviser or do not feel comfortable with your current adviser's expertise in the market risks we discuss here at PeakProsperity.com, consider scheduling a free consultation with our endorsed adviser)

Suffice it to say, any investment ideas sparked by this report should be reviewed with your financial adviser before taking any action. Am I being excessively repetitive here in order to drive this point home? Good...

OK, with that out of the way, let's get started. I'll walk through the asset classes I own and my rationale for holding each.

The strategy behind my portfolio allocation is of my own devise, though it has been influenced in no small part by the good folks at New Harbor Financial, Peak Prosperity's aforementioned endorsed financial adviser.

At a high level, it has been constructed to address my strongly-held conclusions that:

  • Prices of most asset classes are dangerously overvalued
  • The risk of another economic contraction on par with (or greater than) the Great Recession within the next 2-4 years is uncomfortably high
  • The most likely path is we will experience a short period of coming deflation, followed soon after by one of high inflation as central banks starting printing currency without restraint (the Ka-POOM theory)
  • Capital will increasingly want to flow from paper assets (tertiary wealth) into tangible ones (primary and secondary wealth)
  • This is a time to prioritize protecting capital (defense) over speculating on how to grow it (offense)
  • Diversification is wise: just be emotionally prepared that some of your bets, by definition, will not pay off
  • In today's world of financial repression, no asset class is truly "safe". As such, asset performance is all relative.

This is not a swing-for-the-fences portfolio. It's much more of a prepare-for-the-storm approach... » Read more

Insider

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ALERT: Markets In Breakdown

Time to take emergency funds out of the banking system
Thursday, February 11, 2016, 1:47 PM

This is a formal ALERT.

We issue those very sparingly here at Peak Prosperity. We only issue them when world events have gotten to the point that we are personally taking new actions to shore up our preparations.

2016 is fast proving that the tranquility the world has enjoyed from 2010 up to now has been false; that the problems we face were merely temporarily papered-over by central planners, not resolved. That tranquility is now over. Prepare for more turbulent times. » Read more

Insider

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First The Fall...

A Special Report: Deflation is here
Tuesday, February 24, 2015, 1:41 AM

One of the models of the future that I favor is the Ka-Poom theory put out by Erik Jansen of iTulip.com back in 1999.

Basically it states that the end of a bubble era begins with a sharp deflationary event (the ‘Ka’ part of the title), but ends in a highly inflationary blow-off, (the ‘Poom’).

It’s a one-two punch. Down then up. » Read more

Blog

A Quick Sanity Check

A cautionary reminder of where we are in this story
Monday, January 19, 2015, 1:06 AM

Sometimes it pays to step way back and look at things from a high level.

In response to the 2008 crisis, the world's major central banks pumped an unprecedented amount of monetary stimulus into the system -- all in the name of kick starting enough economic growth to pull the planet out of its fundamental sinkhole of Too Much Debt.

More than six years and over $4 trillion later, what exactly can we say it did for us?

Not enough, as the following short video summarizes. » Read more

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The Good News In All The Bad Data

A rare convergence of confidence in future developments
Friday, June 13, 2014, 1:14 AM

Today's financial markets make a mockery out of sanity and logic. The difference between what SHOULD happen and what IS happening is perhaps the greatest it has been in our investing lifetimes.

If you're perplexed, flummoxed, frustrated, stymied, enraged, bored, irritated, insulted, discouraged -- any or all of these -- by the ever-higher blind grinding of asset prices over the past several years, despite so many structural reasons for concern, you have good reason to be.

Insider

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How To Position Yourself Now

Components of a good investing plan
Friday, June 13, 2014, 1:13 AM

Executive Summary

  • Planning determinants for:
    1. Precious Metals
      • Bullion: physical
      • Bullion: stored & tradable
      • Miners
    2. Stocks & bonds
      • Remaining long
      • Strategies for shorting
    3. Real Estate
    4. Debt Management
    5. Income Security
    6. Local Investing
    7. Personal Preparations
    8. Community Preparations

If you have not yet read The Good News In All The Bad Data, available free to all readers, please click here to read it first.

Though we strongly advise in Part 1 to move to cash, it's essential to remember that this is largely a transitional maneuver. The goal is to keep your powder dry during the coming deflationary storm, and then deploy it in as intelligently and timely a manner as possible when your dollars can buy quality assets at excellent discounts. In this Part 2, we walk you through the principal components for building your investing action plan for both in advance of, and when, that time arrives.

Also, we understand that for reasons of options and attitude, simply moving your portfolio 100% into cash is unpalatable or unrealistic for a number of people. Some of you will want to, perhaps even need to, have a percentage of your capital remain in the financial markets for the foreseeable future. So we discuss both long and short strategies for you to evaluate and pick whichever best suits your personal situation.

It's important to understand that the solution set contained below is a superset for your consideration and not a one-size-fits-all recipe (i.e. do NOT take it as personal investment advice!). As strongly urged in Part 1, its best use is as a structured guide for you and your financial adviser to use together in discussing and developing an investment plan customized to your goals, needs and risk tolerance.

Suffice it to say, everything discussed in this report (even the % cash component mentioned in Part 1) should be reviewed with your financial adviser before taking any action. Am I being excessively repetitive here in order to drive this point home? Good...

Precious Metals

One of the biggest mysteries that continues to perplex Chris and me is: Why is central bank liquidity creating price bubbles in every asset class EXCEPT the one you would expect it to most?

Here we have everything from Facebook stock to Las Vegas houses to junk bonds to Beats headphones catching bids at insane prices. As Chris discussed last week with economist Steen Jakobsen, the data for stocks over the past year shows that the worse the balance sheet, the better a company's stock performance has been.

Why is everything down to pure crap being lifted by the giant pool of money sloshing around the planet, but prices for gold and silver -- arguably the highest-grade assets to own -- are so badly languishing?

I won't rehash all of our speculations for why, as there are dozens of recent articles on this site speculating on the topic. But as this year's mega-report on gold drives home, the actual fundamentals for owning precious metals not only remain intact, but they are expanding materially each year. 

Well, the good news here is that the precious metals market is the one place you don't have to wait for the "buy at pennies on the dollar" experience. It's here now.

Prices are not only far below what the fundamentals justify, but... » Read more

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The US Housing Market's Darkening Data

Get ready for the return of declining home prices
Tuesday, June 3, 2014, 1:15 AM

The more we look at today's data, the more it looks like that we are in a new type of pricing cycle -- one that homeowners and housing investors have no prior experience with.

And the more we learn about the fundamentals underlying the current cycle, the harder it becomes to justify today's home prices on any sustained level. Meaning a downward reversion in home values is very probable in the coming years. » Read more