I was asked at last week’s news conference whether these forecasts are too good to be true – a reasonable question.

– Fed Chairman Jerome Powell

BUENOS AIRES – Yesterday, while we were out of touch… the markets grew a little worried.

The Dow fell 200 points.

From CNBC:

Investors continued to show signs of jitteriness Friday, as rising interest rates weighed on sentiment. On Thursday, the yield on the 10-year Treasury note notched its highest level in over seven years, following positive economic data released this week.

Comments from Federal Reserve Chair Jerome Powell also pushed yields higher. On Wednesday, Powell said that the Fed had a long way to go before interest rates would hit neutral, suggesting to markets that more hikes could be coming.

We’ll have more on the Fed, etc. on Monday… But we’re on the road today. No time for serious thinking.

Instead, we’ll tell you more about what is going on at the ranch…

Green Grass

We rode out on the range to look at the cattle.


The long road at Gualfin

Even after eight months without a drop of rain, there is still some green grass down in the valley where the river cuts through the mountains to an adjoining ranch.

There are three rivers on our ranch. This time of year, none of them have any real water. Whatever water there is has gone underground. But some of it resurfaces just before it leaves the ranch. That is where the cows congregate.

The area is right in front of the house. But it is still a long way away. We ride down to the dry riverbed, and then follow it to the green grass. The ride takes more than an hour, partly because the horses find it hard going in the sand.

Then, a couple of springs appear… with water trickling, then running, down toward the angusto – a narrow defile through the rocks – where the water tumbles and splashes over to our neighbor’s place about a mile further on.

Neither cattle, nor horses, nor humans can go through the rocky pass safely. When we visit our neighbors (a Swiss couple that runs an organic vineyard), we have to ride around the mountains to the east, which takes about five hours.

The gauchos and ranch hands use a backhoe to channel the water from the spring over the wide expanse of riverbed, trying to encourage as much grass as possible before we lose the water to our neighbors.


Bill and the gauchos redirect the water to irrigate the fields

The result is a delightful area of pools, grass, and swampy patches where birds and guanacos – a close relative of the llama – gather along with the cattle.

We saw two herds of guanacos, about eight animals in each, mixing comfortably with the cattle. But as we rode up, the cattle were blasé… while the guanacos took off, running up into the dry hills.

Occasionally, the cowboys will shoot a guanaco and eat it; but rarely. They also shoot the burros from time to time. Both animals are pests… competing with the cattle for the little bit of grass we have.

Cattle’s Promised Land

Another real pest is the condor. There were about 20 of them on the ground, picking at the bones of a dead cow.


Cows get caught in quicksand and don’t always make it out…

The swampy areas can include pools of quicksand or deep mud, where the cows get stuck. Sometimes, we’ll find a cow while it is still alive. But often, it is attacked by the condors or simply dies from exhaustion before we find it.

The condors also prey on the soft and defenseless newborn calves. A group of the birds will attack, some distracting the mother cow… while the others kill its calf.

We’re counting on our new property farther down the valley to make life easier on the animals. There, we have water directly from the Calchaquí River.


For cattle, life can be hard in high, dry Gualfin

Over the last 12 months, we have cleared the land and planted alfalfa. In a few more months, the alfalfa will be ready. We’ll drive the cows up over the pass and down to the green fields of the lower ranch – a two-day cattle drive.


The “promised land” for the cows

There, they and their calves will be fattened on the grass and corn. The calves will be sold, and the mother cows will be driven back up over the pass for another season.

Stay tuned…





By Joe Withrow, Head of Research, Bonner & Partners

As we begin Q4 2018, we’re entering one of the best times of the year to be in stocks…

That’s the story today as we map the average returns of the S&P 500 by quarter going back 10 years.


As you can see, on average, U.S. stocks have delivered returns of 3.9% during the last three months of the year going back to 2008. That makes Q4 the best-performing quarter for the S&P 500.

But why?

One explanation is that the fourth quarter brings holiday shopping. This provides a stronger business environment that translates into gains in the stock market.

Another explanation is that fund managers tend to sell losing positions in their portfolios and buy stocks showing stronger returns. This is to give the impression in year-end statements that their funds have been holding winning stocks.

Nobody knows for certain, but this trend suggests that U.S. stocks have a good chance of closing out 2018 higher than where they are today.

– Joe Withrow


Anatomy of a Bull Market
We’re now living through the longest bull market in history. Who deserves the credit? Trump? Obama? Yellen? Nope. It’s this…

How Trump Takes on Big Tech
Recently, President Trump accused Silicon Valley giant Google of “rigging” search results to stifle conservative-leaning viewpoints. Google denies the claim. But now, Big Tech is squarely in the crosshairs of the Trump administration. Here’s how the showdown might shake out…

Even the Economy Is Partisan
America’s partisan political climate is spilling over into the economy. How’s the country’s economic expansion going? It depends which side of the aisle you ask…


In the mailbag, some trade talk

You just can’t let up on Trump, eh? “We don’t need a trade deal with Canada.” Really? How do you propose to address one trade partner essentially blocking your goods from entering? Is that what you call win-win? How can you criticize tariffs in the same breath? 0.24% of the Canadian dairy market benefits 100% of Wisconsin dairy farmers/producers and, by extension, workers. Ask them, before calling it crumbs.

– Erich K.

Meanwhile, praise for Bill’s stories, and the “hidden agenda” of the Diary

You are so funny… I need a laugh from time to time. Keep the humor going. It helps. You should run for office… Bonner 2020.

– Anonymous

Thank you for the hitchhiker story. It gave me a good laugh.

– John H.

Trump, Kavanaugh, the Deep State, fake money, fake news, the fix being in, and even the originarios… I enjoy it all. But what is this repeated antipathy toward photographs of cats on Facebook? I’m beginning to get a sense of the Diary’s hidden agenda… and I’m not liking it at all.

– Nick P.