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    • Thu, Apr 26, 2012 - 03:58am

      #14

      Erik T.

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      bootstrap wrote:I decided

    bootstrap wrote:

    I decided to get out of dodge (the USSA) about 5 years ago. …after looking at tens of thousands of potential locations

    Wow, that’s awfully impressive. I’m on a very similar mission, have been interviewed about it on FinancialSense, and am writing a book on that very subject. Yet after more than a year on the road living out of a suitcase, I’ve only found time to look at about 25 specific properties.

    You say “tens of thousands” of properties, so the minimum value for your claim (based on plural use of “tens”) is 20,000 properties. And you’ve been at it for only 5 years? Wow, your work ethic is a lot better than mine, boostrap. That’s 11 properties per day to view and conduct due diligence on, working 7 days a week, including holidays, 365 days a year. I’m impressed!

    Dogs, AO, Goes211, you guys are being WAY too nice. The base post should have been flagged as spam and forgotten.

    Erik

    • Thu, Jan 19, 2012 - 03:16pm

      #48

      Erik T.

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      @Travlin

    Trav,

    You’re a far more astute investor than most, and I think you have a very solid understanding of all this. What really drives me nuts is when I see guys being misled by all the “Paper decoupling from physical” nonsense, or worse, stuff like the ZH headline claiming Physical was trading at a premium over paper, when in reality what they were reporting was an unprecedented premium for PAPER (PSLV) over Physical.

    RE: your analysis, you forgot physical bullion in an allocated account. The storage fees are real, but you could pay them for more than a decade for the PSLV premium when it was at 30+.

    Ok, in fairness I should retrench and acknolwedge that there is nothing wrong with PSLV if you buy it when it’s trading close to NAV. I would consider a sub-5% premium to be acceptable, because you’d pay that in commissions and storage fees to hold real physical metal. Sprott has a very strong incentive to at least attempt to repeat his performance, and hype the premium up again. So there’s a very real upside based on greater fool theory alone.

    The reason I have such a “hard on” (JIim H’s words) about PSLV is when I see guys spending their life’s savings buying it at a 30+% premium after reading some BS Zerohedge article espousing how “paper is decoupling from physical” or some other nonsense. For those of you who are astute enough to trade out of PSLV when the premium is high and back in when it’s low, my hat is off to you.

    Best,

    Erik

     

    • Wed, Jan 18, 2012 - 08:04am

      #39

      Erik T.

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      The scam is in the reissue

    The scam being perpetrated by Sprott (and yes, it is a scam folks) lies in the secondary share offering.

    Here’s the overall breakdown of the PSLV scam. Charles Ponzi would be proud…

    1. Offer a PAPER SIVER product, but put a “P” in the ticker symbol and make a big deal over the convertibility option, leading most retail investors to mistake this PAPER silver product for physical silver.
    2. Offer the FIRST batch of shares at 5% premium – not a bad take for Sprott, but not so egregious so as to cause Sprott to be called out as the scam artist he really is. But make sure the structure is closed-ended and the initial offering is small enough that a premium will develop quickly as the product gains popularity.
    3. Hold off on a secondary issuance AND hype up the premium out of context, misleading investors into thinking the “market” is placing higher value on the physical silver in PSLV than the physical silver owned by SLV or CEF. The whole idea is to get the premium as high as possible, while duping investors into thinking it’s a good thing. Do you guys really think that headline on ZeroHedge a week before the secondary offering hyping up the 30% premium and portraying it backwards from reality was a coincidence? I don’t.
    4. Wait until the premium is REALLY, REALLY high – at an all time record, and THEN announce a follow-on offering, but tell people that “to protect existing investors” the follow-on will retain the “market premium”. This is the core of the con, where what is really a windfall profit to Sprott is being disguised as a “public service” for the benefit of the people who are really the victims of the con. The whole point of the PSLV product was to set the stage for exactly this outcome – Sprott being able to sell follow-on shares for 20%+ over NAV and pocketing the change, while looking like a hero as he does it. Brilliant con man tactics here.

    The investors being duped think the premium is somehow a good thing, and Sprott looks like a hero for “protecting” them by “retaining” the premium in the follow-on offering. In reality, the whole product is nothing but a con job engineered to allow Sprott to make an instant 20% profit on every ounce in the follow-on offering and every subsequent offering after that. Rather than be honest and tell people he is charging an egregious premium for PAPER over the price of REAL METAL, he has brilliantly invented a way to make himself look like he’s “protecting the little guy” when he’s really taking all the little guys he can find to the cleaners. The recent ZeroHedge headline that reported the exact opposite of reality as if it were fact almost certainly originated from Sprott or friends of Sprott.

    PSLV IS A SCAM designed to exploit the naivity of retail investors. It’s just that simple. And it really is one of the most brilliant cons I’ve ever seen. Perhaps some day instead of talking about “Ponzi Schemes”, we’ll be talking about “Sprott Schemes”!

    Erik

     

     

    • Sat, Jan 07, 2012 - 08:02pm

      #23

      Erik T.

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      PSLV on MARGIN is even more stupid than PSLV in a cash acct

    macro2682 wrote:

    Physical silver in your hands must be purchased with cash in your checking account.  Paper silver can be purchased with credit in your brokerage account or tax-advantaged retirement account.  I believe PSLV holds a premium because it is the closest thing to physical silver (in your hands) that investors can buy with tax-advantaged cash and brokerage credit.  That said, I agree that 30% is insane.  It would be better to take the 10% hit on your 401K and buy physical than to use 401K assets to buy PSLV.

    Doug already covered the first two points – that you CAN hold allocated physical metal in an IRA, and that there are plenty of other instruments (SLV, CEF for example) that you can hold in your brokerage account without paying the ridiculous premium on PSLV.

    But there’s a third, slightly less obvious reason that your argument doesn’t hold up. That is that buying PSLV on margin is about the stupidest thing a person could do – way more foolish than buying PSLV in a cash account, which is already very foolish. The reason is that when you buy PSLV in a margin account, the shares will almost certainly be hypothecated – there is plenty of short demand because of the opportunity presented by the spread compression trade. When you hold PSLV in a margin account, you don’t really own any shares of PSLV. Rather, your broker owes you those shares of PSLV. But you don’t actually have any PSLV shares in your name, and you don’t have any redemption rights.

    So long as the whole financial system is operating normally and no systemic upset has occurred, there’s nothing wrong with having your broker owe you shares that you don’t really have title to. The broker is good for the money. But presumably, the whole reason you were willing to pay a premium for PSLV is that you are concerned about a systemic upset to the financial system. In that case, you don’t have any PSLV shares, and you don’t have any right to demand Physical delivery of anything from Sprott. Rather, you have an unsecured claim against your broker, which a bankruptcy trustee would probably resolve by first calculating cash settlement at the spot price at the time of the systemic upset, before the price of the metal went through the roof. Then that would be subject to a haircut because the broker doesn’t have the money to make good on all the claims from all the other account holders. When you buy PSLV in a MARGIN account, you are paying a huge preimum for the illusion that you have a physical redemption right that you don’t really have. You have no physical redemption right because you have no shares. The shares you thought you owned were promptly hypothecated to a short-seller who made a few bucks on the spread compression trade at your expense. You have NOTHING but an unsecured claim against your now-bankrupt broker.

    True, none of this is a problem so long as the system is functioning normally, and nothing goes bump in the night. But if you are assuming nothing will go wrong, you’re far better off just buying SLV, saving the premium, and if you want to “redeem” it for physical, just sell it and use the proceeds to buy physical metal from a dealer.

    I said it before and I’ll say it again: There is no intelligent reason to buy PSLV. It is an instrument that exists solely for the purpose of exploiting the ignorance of retail investors, and it offers no real and tangible benefits over SLV or CEF. (It does have a tax advantage over SLV for some investors, but CEF has the same tax benefit as PSLV without the ridiculous premium).

    If you own PSLV, you have been duped into doing something foolish.  Sorry, folks, but it’s really just that simple.

    Best,

    Erik

     

    • Sat, Jan 07, 2012 - 07:49am

      #14

      Erik T.

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      PSLV exists for one reason: Separating fools from their money.

    The explanation is quite simple: PSLV is the absolute stupidest way possible to buy silver. It is a vehicle created for the purpose of exploiting the naivity of retail investors, and Eric Sprott masterfully manages the premium to his personal financial advantage, and the disadvantage of PSLV investors.

    Yes, the silver in PSLV is PHYSICAL SILVER. Sprott reiterating that point every chance he gets seems to work beautifully in keeping the premium high. Shockingly, nobody seems to notice that the PHYSICAL SILVER owned by PSLV is not one iota more or less “Physical” than the PHYSICAL SILVER owned by SLV or CEF.

    To your question about why isn’t the spread compression trade (Long SI, short PSLV) more popular, one reason is that PSLV isn’t all that liquid – when I’ve put that trade on myself in relatively small size (10,000 shares PSLV short), it takes quite a while to fill the order because of thin liquidity. Another reason is margin conservation – traders who are sophisticated enough to trade the SI futures can swing trade the market with leverage, or use all their margin supporting the short PSLV leg on the compression trade, then waiting a LONG time for the PSLV investors to wise up. It’s just not worth it.

    In summary, long positions in PSLV are foolish. Period. No exceptions. It’s the single most inefficient way to buy silver under the sun. Period. Even investors suffering the delusional belief that the silver in SLV or CEF is womehow “less physical” than the silver in PSLV would do far better just buying real allocated physical metal, and paying the storage fee. You could pay for 10+ years storage for less than the PSLV premium.

    Remember, regardless of what the Internet Illuminati might say, PSLV is PAPER SILVER with a redemption option that might or might not be honored when you need it. It’s NOT allocated physical metal, it’s PAPER. Sprott should get an award for his marketing brilliance in figuring out that if you put a “P” in the ticker symbol, most retails will be duped into thinking that PAPER is physical metal. It’s not. Regardless of the P in the symbol. The irony is that allocated metal is actually CHEAPER!

    There is NO smart reason to buy PSLV, ever. Don’t let anyone tell you otherwise.

    Best,

    Erik

     

    • Tue, Jan 03, 2012 - 09:41am

      #4

      Erik T.

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      I think “Ross Perot Effect” is the best thing RP can contribute

    I agree that RP, if elected, wouldn’t get the congressional support necessary to actually do what he seeks to do. More to the point, although I’m excited that he’s rapidly gaining traction in the polls, I don’t think it’s even realistic to expect him to be elected.

    But I do think that if his recent surge in popularity continues, RP will have the opportunity to get the people’s attention during the campaign. Think Ross Perot Syndrome. I don’t mean the same political views – I mean the ability to affect the nation by using his status as a candidate who never had a chance of being elected to wake people up to what the real issues are, something the candidates with a chance of being elected are ironically ignoring. Perot never had a chance, and probably knew it. But he sure did get a lot of people talking and thinking about issues the mainstream policians on both sides of the aisle would have preferred to avoid even discussing.

    To my thinking, the most RP can do to really help the country is to get a little more traction, and perhaps stage a 3rd party run after he loses the republican nomination. Then he could use the resulting press coverage and debate exposure to wake people up to what the real issues are. He stands a very, very real chance of getting enough publicity to spread his message of awareness in a way that changes the way average Americans think, and that could have a very real, important, and beneficial impact on what Congress can get away with going forward. Unfortunately, I think that speculation about what it would be like if RP actually WON the election and became President is largely an exercise in unrealistic wishful thinking. I hope I’m wrong.

    ET

     

    • Tue, Jan 03, 2012 - 06:44am

      #2

      Erik T.

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      Unfortunately, I don’t think it would be a positive outcome

    I’ve been thinking quite a lot recently about this very topic. I’m going to take the liberty of broadening Kev’s original question to: If Ron Paul were elected President, what would America look like by the end of his first term? Unfortunately, I’m convinced the answer is that Dr. Paul would be perceived as a complete failure (worse than both Obama and Bush), and that Americans would shun the message of fiscal reform Dr. Paul tried and failed to bring to the people for many years to come.

    Before going on, let me be perfectly clear: Not only do I think Ron Paul is the best guy for the job, but I’m convinced he’s the only guy running who is actually qualified for the job. So I’m not anti-Ron Paul by any stretch of the imagination, at least in terms of my own personal views. But the question as I see it is not what I think, but how a Ron Paul presidency would go for America. I think some positive social outcomes would result, but economically, I think it could be a real disaster. The core problem is that there is a multi-year lag between policy and economic outcome, and the damage has already been done. One of the most certain truths in politics is that when TS really HTF, the people blame the guy in office at the moment the S hits the fan blades. Based on Chris’ work and a lot of other research, I am convinced that TS is going to HTF big-time in the United States in the next four years, and that nothing can be done to stop it at this point. If you accept that premise, you have to acknowledge that the next guy to take office is going to be perceived as a dysmal failure, regardless of what he tries to do. In a bizarre way, I’d almost rather see Obama re-elected. I think he’s the worst president America has ever had – even worse than Bush II. But if he’s in office when TS really HTF, perhaps the American people will wake up and recognize that interventionist, big-government policy just plain doesn’t work, and would be ready for some real and serious reform by 2016, by which time the Peak Oil Greater Depression will be more widely recognized as the reality that is upon us.

    But let’s suppose RP is elected (big IF), and that he somehow manages to muster the bipartisan political support necessary to implement the sweeping changes that are so desperately needed, including ending the practice of reckless money printing in a futile attempt to control the business cycle (much bigger IF). What would a Ron Paul presidency mean for America?

    First the good news…

    I think the primary upside would be on the social and civil rights front, not the economic front. Stop and ask yourself how it could even be possible that Obama just confirmed he is going to sign NDAA into law, abrogating the doctrines of presumption of innocence, right of due process, right to confront one’s accuser, and right to trial by jury. I am convinced that the reason is simply that most Americans aren’t paying attention, and are content to just assume that if the Government is saying this stuff is “necessary to fight terrorism”, then it must be, and so citizens should just accept that Washington knows best. You have a few Senators speaking out, including one guy from Oregon actually calling upon the Supreme Court to void the just-passed legislation (what a class act!) on the Senate Floor. But most people aren’t paying attention.

    Now if you had the President of the United States standing up and saying to the American People, “Look at what your government has done over the last decade. We are giving up the rights that made this nation unique. Our national government and particularly our military are out of control, and in addition to the moral injustice, we are spending our way into national bankruptcy with these Imperialistic policies. It’s time for the PEOPLE to wake up and demand accountability from Government!”. Now if the President were saying that, I think even Joe Sixpack would take a break from watching American Idol and take stock of what’s happening to the country.

    So I think RP stands a good chance of waking up the people and getting them to demand that our freedoms be restored. So far, as absurd at the USA PATRIOT Act, NDAA, and [I forget the name of the act that made it legal for the government to retain and analyze ALL credit card transactions of ALL citizens without probable cause], the shocking reality is that people were so gripped by fear by 9/11 that they seem willing to accept just about any loss of liberty so long as the Government is delivering a clear message that it’s “necessary for our safety”. The President saying this is BS and Americans need to wake up and demand their Constitutional Rights back would upset the apple cart enough that the masses might finally wake up and smell the roses.

    Until now, the Fed. Gov’t has done a remarkably good job of “staying on message”, claiming all the loss of freedom is actually in the name of freedom, even through the trans-partisan change from Bush II to Obama. RP would take the powers that be to task, and speak out loudly, calling upon the American people not to tolerate such oppressive action from their Government. The last President to have the fortitude to do that was JFK, and look how that ended. I fear that RP’s Presidency would likely end the same way (assassination), and while I would never hope for that, it might be the best outcome because at least then he would be remembered fondly for the message he brought the people, rather than being remembered as the guy who was in office when the economy really went off the deep end, which I’m convinced it will do in the next 4 years, regardless of who is President.

    But the bad news is inevitable…

    If RP were elected and somehow managed to end the reckless money printing, two things would happen. First, the prosperity of future generations would no longer be the sacrificial lamb used to prop up the economy for the next few months or years, and that would be the greatest change a President could possibly make. The USA faces a very real and serious sovereignty risk: Unless something changes, the USA will eventually fail as did the Soviet Union in a colossal bankrupcy. But that positive change cannot be felt by the people in the immediate sense, and <1% of the population would perceive and appreciate the importance of the change.

    The next thing to happen is that financial markets and the general economy would immediately CRASH, because the market has been discounting a presumption of continuing stimulus through money printing. As GOOD as ending reckless money printing would be in the long run, that decision amounts to making the very hard choice to take our medicine now in order to right the wrongs of the last two decades, and return the nation to fiscal responsibility through a very slow and painful process (i.e taking our medicine).

    Astute readers of this site will “get it” and recognize that accepting some real hardship now in order to save the nation from a FAR worse outcome that we MUST face sooner or later is actually, by far, the best option available. But people capable of seeing that reality are so few in number as to be insignificant in terms of deciding the outcome of the 2016 election.

    After 4 years of Ron Paul doing all the right things for America, the economy will be necessarily hurting very badly. Almost nobody will be capable of understanding why that was actually the most desirable outcome of the possible choices. Ron Paul will then be discredited as the left begins chanting about how the “great” President Obama was right on the verge of saving the day and making everything perfect and the economy was ALMOST completely recovered with decades of prosperity nearly in hand, but then RP got elected and screwed everything up. They will cite the condition of the economy as evidence that RP was wrong and that his sort of thinking should never again be welcomed. 95% of Americans will buy that line of reasoning hook, line and sinker.

    Bottom line, there is no good outcome for the 2012 election. We either get the wrong guy (Obama, Romney, etc) who screws things up even worse, or we get RP who walks into a nobody-could-win situation, and loses public confidence because keeping it would have been impossible for any leader.

    ET

     

    • Sat, Sep 17, 2011 - 09:51pm

      #22

      Erik T.

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      excel

    Trav,

    It’s not as easy as it should be, but this seems to be a limitation of all the popularly available forum software.

    You need to capture it as a picture (.png, .jpeg, etc) and then use the image tool on the CM.com text editor. You can’t just drag and drop or cut and paste. You have to first upload the file (either to CM or another photo hosting site), then insert it in your post as an image. If you put it on another hosting site, you should be able to update it as you describe and it should keep working here.

    Best,

    ET

    • Sun, Sep 11, 2011 - 11:31pm

      #12

      Erik T.

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      ao wrote:Step up to the pro

    [quote=ao]Step up to the pro level (which I’m not willing to commit the time to at this particular stage in life) or join the rest of the sheeple and be fleeced from time to time. [/quote]

    ao, you hit the nail on the head. Your choices are to either make a LIFE of this investing thing, or accept that (at least so far as commodities are concerned), you’re going to get fleeced. Yes, it really is just exactly that simple, and I think it really stinks. But that’s the way it is. As Jim Hannah said, some of the ETFs are getting a LITTLE smarter. But the big picture is that retail investors get fleeced by guys I know and hang out with over beers. If it’s any consolation, they sorta-kinda feel sorry for you (honest – some of them have told me as much), but they’re still happy to take your money.

    [quote=ao]I decided to do neither and go the route Nate is talking about.  Unfortunately, the prices have skyrocketed in the most productive areas of the country since I first started looking at farmland. [/quote]

    This is VERY important to understand: Farmland is suddenly "in" with the extremely high net worth individual/family office crowd. In other words, the idea has already been discovered. Probably still a good investment, but just like Gold, the big opportunity was 3 years ago. If you can think up the next big opportunity, you’re better off elsewhere. It’s becoming a crowded trade, and when it falls out of fashion, the inherent liquidity issues of real estate will probably strand some investors in a situation they can’t escape.

    I think if you want to make the "farmland play", you have to be more creative. An idea I’ve had has been to buy a vineyard/winery in the Barossa Valley region of Australia, and lease it back to someone who wants to be in that business. Vineyards (historically a luxury play) are somewhat out of favor now, and the idea of having a home on a vineyard, enoying the wine someone else has to worry how to make, then being ready to convert it to productive farm land if the world really goes to hell in a handbasket seems to make sense. I’ve yet to research the economics, however, and don’t yet know if that play would even make sense. But my point is, if you want to play farmland, I think your choices are to either be creative or pay too much.

    [quote=Travlin]

    Erik – I appreciate your reply as I know you trade futures directly. You confirmed my assessment in most respects. I’ve been investing a long time but I try to keep it simple. I’m not a trader. I like buying undervalued assets and holding for the long term. That used to work fine, but it’s a sure way to lose money these days. However, I can make a case that gold is an undervalued asset, and by Chris’ reasoning will be relatively safe to hold for many years, as long as the printing presses are running and interest rates are low. 

    I’m really not a futures trading kind of guy, so ELEMENTS potentially looks like a way I could get into commodities indexes with an expert doing the trades. My point that “Market makers may front run these futures contracts”, was based on comments from Chris, and you have confirmed it. However, my impression is that ELEMENTS do accurately match the index returns, minus a 0.75% expense ratio. That is a very reasonable cost to me, and apparently the front-running costs are included in that figure. If the returns are anywhere close, then this is not an issue for me. 

    So I agree that I have to live with the limitations of the ETFs/ETNs if I want to pursue this. My questions for you are:

    * If you were in my position would you consider ETFs/ETNs acceptable as far as their inherent risk as investment vehicles? If not, why? Market risk is a separate issue that I can evaluate myself.

    * Do you think the ELEMENTS securities issued by the Swedish Export Credit Crop. might be a little safer than their competitors since it is owned by the Swedish government?

    Hope you’re enjoying Argentina, if you are still there. It would be interesting to get your comments about it to compare to FerFAL.[/quote]

    Trav, you impress me far more than most professional traders I meet. Why? Because you clearly understand your limitations, and know better than to get in over your head. And unfortunately, you have it exactly right: just like AO said, you choice is to either do this full time or be fleeced by those who do. I never even heard of "ELEMENTS", so cannot comment.

    Can I "accept ETNs/ETFs as far as their inherent risk as investment vehicles"? Yes, absolutely. ETFs (but not so much ETNs) are a wonderful invention, and they are the best choice I see for retail investors. But what I do NOT accept is the idea that they are so poorly organized and offered. Suppose you want to play the peak oil trade I described in my videos on that subject? Trading the 2015 CL or COIL futures contracts is NOT smart for retail investors. But why the hell can’t you just buy an ETF called "Oil2015", which does the legwork for you? It would be easy for the ETF companies to offer such a product, but they don’t. It creates a huge inequity between guys like me and guys like you, which should not exist. I am at a complete loss to understand why the ETF industry, which seems capable of inventing a new ETF at the drop of a hat, can’t seem to manage to offer retail investors the tools they need to compete equitably with professionals. It really stinks.

    Erik

     

     

    • Sun, Sep 11, 2011 - 01:17am

      #3

      Erik T.

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      Trav, I think you’re at a fork in the road

    Hi Travlin,

    In my opinion, you are stuck in the unfortunate middle ground between the upper tiers of "retail investing" and learning all about futures (which by any measure is a professional-level undertaking). You are definitely correct that it’s a really big learning curve to be competent and really understand all the risks you are taking with futures, and I would strongly discourage 99% of investors from touching them. One of my favorite statistics is that of all the retail investors who open futures accounts, 95% of them end up substantially losing all their money within a year. Those are obviously terrible odds, so great caution is warranted.

    The bad news is this: All the commodity ETFs and ETNs I know of – even the Rogers series which I like – are seriously flawed because of what’s known as the "dumb rollover problem", meaning that these funds just roll their futures positions forward month after month, making them susceptible to frontrunning. I’ve met guys who make seven figures a year doing NOTHING but front-running the commodity EFT rolls.

    So you have a choice, Trav: You have to either accept that you are a retail investor and that a basket of ETFs like DBA and the Rogers group is the best you’re going to do, else you have to learn all about futures and do your own thing, accepting responsibility for managing all the rollovers yourself. Based on your numerous posts on this site, Travlin, I can tell you that *you* have the aptitude to learn about futures. But it’s a lot of work. I tell people not to even think about trading futures until they’ve (at a bare minimum) read all three of the "Schwager on Futures" book series cover to cover. That’s about 25 lbs of books, FYI.

    To the best of my knowledge, those are your only choices: Accept the limitations of the ETFs and try to smile, or invest a whole lot of time learning how to trade futures. Sorry; I wish I had something more positive to say, but that’s what I think it comes down to.

    All the best,

    Erik

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