GUALFIN, ARGENTINA – Have you ever wondered what you would do if you had a health emergency in a remote location?
We never thought about it… until last week.
Then we found out.
Up at the ranch… five hours from the nearest emergency room… your editor began having symptoms of what seemed like a heart attack.
Our heart was racing, pounding, and fluttering. We gasped for air.
Hmmm… Drought… Indian attacks… and now this!
This was not a good place to have a gimpy heart. Suddenly, we saw black crepe hanging from the ceiling beams and a group of women keening in the living room.
Gualfin means “the place at the end.” The name was beginning to look like prophecy.
Our eyes misted over. We began composing funeral orations… selecting dirges… and imagining the combination of expectation and chagrin that our sudden departure might entail.
We considered the practicalities: Did we forget to tell anyone that you need to pump the gas three times to start the old pickup? Did we tell anyone where we hid the silver dimes? Will anyone remember to close the barn door properly, so the wind doesn’t take it off its hinges?
Then, between gulps of air, we saw our dear readers, tears in their eyes, as they got the news.
We wondered how to put the news to them, softly, without sounding absurd.
People today say that someone has “passed.” But the word lacks meaning… and drama. Passed what? To whom?
We wondered how to phrase it better. We wanted the message to be clear and unambiguous, and also to offer mourners a little poetic relief.
“We’re sorry to report that your editor is no more. His stock has ceased trading. He has moved on… to where he will receive his last bonus, or penalty, such as it is.
“He will not be renewing his subscription to the Financial Times. He will not be checking his email, if you know what we mean.
“His wife is a widow. His children are fatherless. His lawyers are rejoicing and drawing up plans for vacation homes.”
We were thus engaged in reverie when Elizabeth talked sense:
“You’re probably fine. You know you’re a hypochondriac. But rather than staying up here and composing ditties to put on your tombstone, let’s go to Salta immediately and get it checked out.”
So we drove down to the city and went to see a cardiologist. Then, after days of scanning and photographing, measuring and recording, he pronounced judgment:
“Your heart is healthy. Nothing to worry about. It must be the altitude that is causing problems. Your ranch is at 9,000 feet above sea level. That’s pretty high. Some people react badly.”
“What can we do about it?” we asked.
“Don’t go up that high,” came the sage advice.
For those interested in medical treatment in foreign countries, we found the whole procedure efficient and simple.
But it helps if you have friends who know how the system works.
Argentina operates a free public health service.
“Oh… but you can’t go there,” a friend explained. “It’s terrible. You’ll die before a doctor ever sees you.”
So we went to a private clinic.
We paid cash for each procedure – X-rays, ECG, CAT scan, blood tests, ultrasound. The whole kit and caboodle, including three consultations with doctors, cost about $800.
After we got our diagnosis, the next few days were taken up with wondering what to do.
The local guy proposed a drug. But when we asked our Baltimore-based doctor for a second opinion, he was emphatic: “That will never work.”
We ended up going back up to the ranch after promising to visit a specialist at Johns Hopkins when we get back to Baltimore.
In the meantime, we will continue to write our Diary… and we will keep the electric cattle prod near the bed… just in case.
By Chris Lowe, Editor at Large, Bonner & Partners
The days of the strong dollar are over…
Today’s chart is of the U.S. Dollar Index.
It tracks the exchange value of the dollar versus a basket of six major trading-partner currencies.
As you can see, since the index peaked last December, it’s fallen 6%.
A weaker dollar isn’t necessarily bad news for the U.S. economy.
For example, it makes U.S. exports more competitive by lowering the cost of U.S.-made goods abroad.
It’s also a boon for U.S. firms – such as Mastercard and Priceline.com – that earn the majority of their revenues overseas.
As the dollar weakens, those overseas revenues become more valuable in U.S. dollar terms.
— Chris Lowe
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Today, readers consider Bill’s new “Doom Index.”
The Doom Index seems like something you ought to have on a regular basis. The key, as always, is the trend. Going up? Going down? Stable? How about listing that index in every Diary? Thanks for a consistently good read.
– Tom D.
I think the Doom Index is a wonderful idea, especially since it contains so many seemingly important indicators, which are very hard to integrate with each other even if one is aware of them. I’m really glad to see someone is taking a serious, real try at doing it. I too was surprised at the result, but I am really glad to have this new tool, and will look forward to its updates. How often will it be updated?
– Dave F.
Meanwhile, Bill’s standoff with the originarios continues to be a popular topic…
Paying off the originarios, as suggested by Dale A. in the mailbag, would be a very bad idea. If there were a small group of people with a remotely plausible claim, perhaps that would be a way forward. Once you have established a precedent of a cash reward for making unsupported claims, it is nearly certain you would be inundated with demands for free money from a much larger group of people.
There are probably already newsletters in Argentina selling information on how to make an illegitimate originario claim and probably offering better odds than even the penny stock pumpers claim. I don’t have any good ideas but I can generally recognize a bad one. Paying them off is a bad one.
– Paul W.
It would appear the writing is on the wall for the ranch. In the long run, you will lose it to the originarios. They have nothing to lose and everything to gain. It is sad, but perhaps it is time to move in with [Doug] Casey in Argentina and hope the same does not befall his piece of paradise.
– Fred L.
Following Bill’s ranch stories has been so eye-opening. It’s a shame Bill cannot hire people to tend the land for fear they will claim it is rightfully theirs. Remember when a handshake was your bond… your word?
– Michael C.
I am very sorry to hear about the hassles you are having at your ranch. Sometimes, it is best to just “shake the dust off your feet” and leave a place where you are not appreciated. Greed, envy, and sloth are the chief sins you seem to be up against in your situation. It is robbing you of your peace, and it may make you bitter toward your fellow man. Better to say “good riddance” and walk away with your peace and health. Those who steal your land will never prosper on that land.
– Bruce S.
You’re in a very sad predicament with the originarios. I sincerely sympathize! Might I suggest a ploy you could attempt at your pending “mediation” hearing? You said some time ago that you considered claiming originario status for yourself to counter their claim.
I know it sounds crazy, but it just might work!… Unless it backfires.
– John T.
One of Bill’s top analysts, Chris Mayer, is holding an investing training seminar. And his most recent training video just went live…
In today’s video, Chris reveals what has been dubbed the “Mayer Method.” It’s a system that Chris has been using for years to find the highest-returning stocks of tomorrow — and buy them at bargain prices today. Watch for yourself right here.