DUBLIN – The smart money is getting out while the gettin’ is still good.
That’s the message we get from reading the recent headlines.
Here’s the Financial Times:
Redemptions from stock funds have hit nearly $90 billion this year as portfolio managers and hedge funds struggle to navigate a market that no longer seems driven by radical central bank policy.
Soros cuts U.S. stocks by 37%.
Meanwhile, in Paris over the weekend, it seemed as though everyone had cleared out.
We dined in a neighborhood brasserie on the Rue La Tour-Maubourg. Brightly lit, with red awnings and polished brass, it is normally full of life, noise, and people. But on Saturday, we were as lonely as a libertarian – the only diner in the place.
It was Pentecost weekend – a big holiday in France.
“That’s not all,” a taxi driver told us. “It’s been like this since that terrorist attack in November. We live on tourists. And the tourists have stopped coming.”
There was no line of tourists at the Les Invalides museum complex when we went to visit. The edifice houses a large collection of military paraphernalia.
You could spend weeks inside, studying centuries’ worth of pompous bungling and grand disasters. But we had a particular destination and a special purpose.
We were exploring family secrets…
Every nation… every people… needs its myths, narratives, and heroes.
For a time, Napoleon Bonaparte seemed to prove that France was the “exceptional nation.”
It had the world’s leading culture… its most advanced government… its best art and architecture… and its nearly-invincible armies, headed by the Hannibal of his time, the great military genius – the Emperor Napoleon I.
He managed to recreate the Holy Roman Empire, bringing Europe together under one yoke almost 200 years before the European Union.
But after the catastrophe in Russia – he invaded with 400,000 troops; he returned with fewer than 40,000 – France’s Grande Armée no longer looked so grand. And its commander no longer appeared to be such a genius.
Myths hold nations together. But what holds myths together?
Ah, dear reader, we wish we knew. Napoleon’s next disaster was at Waterloo, where he was caught between Wellington’s anvil and Blücher’s heavy hammer.
Then his friends and fans deserted him… leaving him to the tender mercies of the British army. Thence he was sent off to a tiny island in the South Atlantic – St. Helena.
The nearest major country to St. Helena is South Africa. And from there came a remote cousin’s wife… a woman we met years ago, in London, when she was already in her 90s.
“After Napoleon died,” she explained, “my ancestors – who were with him on that dreadful island – immigrated to South Africa and went into the wine business. They did very well.
“My mother’s grandfather was the son of Henri Bertrand, Napoleon’s favorite general. The general shared everything with the emperor… even his exile.”
There is an exhibition at Les Invalides of “Napoleon at St. Helena.”
Curators have gathered the furniture, books, and personal effects from his time in exile in the South Atlantic. There is also a film showing the island that was his prison and the house the British had prepared for him.
Those were more civilized times. St. Helena was no Guantanamo. The house was pleasant, comfortable, and almost elegant. There were gardens and orchards… and a view to the far-off sea.
We saw Napoleon’s nightclothes, hung neatly over an oriental chair. We saw his books and writing table. We saw his bathtub… and his pool table.
Then, we saw what we were looking for.
There were a couple of paintings of Napoleon’s death. Both show the same scene. A small group has gathered around the emperor on his death bed. Most prominent among them is the only woman in the group, the Comtesse Bertrand, and her children.
They are the family of General Bertrand, who is seated next to the bed, his legs crossed and an anguished look upon his face. His wife stands, bending toward the dying man… with two small children by her side.
“I may be one of the last ones to know it,” the old woman said. “But I’ll tell you, since you are family. Over the years, many people wondered why General Bertrand would take his family into exile with Napoleon. He certainly didn’t have to. He was not banished.
“But my mother told me that General Bertrand shared everything with Napoleon,” the old woman looked down.
A wry smile crossed her wrinkled lips, “Even his wife. You know the French.”
By Doug Casey, Chairman, Casey Research
It is true, as a general rule, that you want to “make the trend your friend.” But there always comes an inflection point when trends change because a market becomes either greatly overvalued or greatly undervalued. And when any market is down by 90% or more, you’ve got to reflexively look at it, no matter how bad the news is, and see if it’s a place where you want to put some speculative capital.
Speculation is all about taking advantage of politically caused distortions in the marketplace, or taking advantage of the aberrations of mass psychology.
In 1978, I had the opportunity to buy a castle in Rhodesia (now Zimbabwe). This was when the war was going on. It was really the final stages. Still, when you flew into the country on Air Rhodesia, you had to pull down the shades at night so as not to draw anti-aircraft fire.
There was all kinds of stuff going on. And, you know, I was young and invulnerable. I went all over the country, and I was the only tourist, at least the only tourist that wasn’t heavily armed. I was the only person at everything from Victoria Falls to the Zimbabwe ruins. I took a bus across the country, a little mini bus, which was actually kind of scary because they were shooting people and everything like that.
I wanted to go to Umtali, a city on the Mozambique border that has been renamed now to Mutare.
So anyway, I’m there, and the place looks like a military camp out of Mad Max because they had all these homemade armored vehicles running around.
Everyone there said you might as well see the Leopard Rock Hotel. And so I did, and it was fantastic. It was a 12 room castle that Italian prisoners of war helped build around World War II.
It had 50 acres of coffee, and it was just beautiful, and those Bvumba Mountains overlooking Mozambique… It had a nine-hole golf course. You know, all the stuff that you want on a resort hotel.
I could have bought that place with the linen, the silverware, everything for $85,000. I wish I had…
I went back to Zimbabwe a few years later, and it had just changed hands by coincidence for $13.5 million. So that would have been a nice hit.
Editor’s Note: Yesterday, Doug and his globetrotting analyst Nick Giambruno kicked off a four-day web event, highlighting their strategy for turning crises into wildly profitable investments. To catch up on their first video, sign up for free here.
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Yesterday’s issue on Trump and the Deep State prompted a ton of great reader feedback…
Once again, congratulations on your way with words and your knowledge of history.
But I can’t quite accept that Obama’s… err… the Deep State’s policies would have been hoisted upon us had McCain and Romney won. Or that Trump will lead us right where Clinton or Sanders would. Come on Bonner, you must be kidding or lost your mind.– Erich K.
Thank you, Bill! In your column of May 16, 2016, titled “Trump’s Biggest Deal,” you’re saying what I suspected for the last 20 years and firmly believed for the last five.
Everyone knows the disease that will kill the American Republic is suffocating amounts of government. But no one will say it… other than a few prophets, who are given no repute in their own time.
Kudos to you, Mr. Bonner. The first Tuesday in November will find me doing something more utile than standing in line to vote for the “lesser of two evils.”– Ron M.
So far, your column makes sense. But you haven’t said a word about Citizen’s United and the damage it has done to the voting system and democracy through unlimited campaign funds from the rich.
– Cyril P.
I have felt for some time that the reason the Republican congressmen have never gone after Bill or Hilary Clinton, or Obama, is that they use the same illegal methods to become rich while in office.– Ronald M.
The policies and action you are suggesting are the same as the libertarians… or are you too close-minded to see it.– Gordon R.
You said, and now, the myth-du-jour is that God stands shoulder-to-shoulder with 51% of registered voters; no matter what dumb headed thing they do, they always have Him on their side.
Thanks for saying all those horrible, but perfectly true, things about us. Not long after the Civil War, the Deep State took over who selected whom we elected.
The fix to America’s problems will be the crash-and-burn type. “The Donald,” the red carpet bagger, will fix nothing. Every president of the last eight have gotten progressively worse. Expect “The Donald” to measure up.– J. Clark
Governments are real, and they have a nasty effect on their subjects (or citizens) whichever be the case. Therefore we, as the people being governed, must do what we can to alleviate the worst of their cupidity.– Anne M.
Bill, you are correct in your article. The problem – and a big one – is our citizens have become slaves to our addiction to government, myself included.
We are all depending on “the government” to do something or provide something for us. We are addicts. Government can only “give” by taking first from its citizens. We allowed it to happen and seem to want to feed the beast until it takes our liberty or lives completely.
Our solution is less government. Not all government is bad; we simply have too much of it. Too many hands in the feeding trough. Keep it up Bill. Thank you.– Mark M.
It did my heart good to see you get your back up against the reactionary mono-thinkers the last few days, in today’s “Trump’s Biggest Deal.”
A well written screed that reminded me (painfully) just how much hypocrisy, bellicosity, and belligerence we now tolerate among our countrymen… and how little clue we have left (if we ever had one) of what’s going on in these once-fair, unpolluted, and uncorrupted united states.
I will refuse to vote for Trump simply because he offends my basic humanity. Being an American to me still means I don’t vote for the Dark Side, or Clarabelle the Clown. “Neither a misogynist nor hypocrite nor vainglorious narcissist be,” as Polonius might have said.– Jim L.