BALTIMORE – We spent yesterday down at the farm getting ready for Christmas – hooking up an old wood stove… setting up the Christmas tree… cleaning up the house.
The children are arriving. One from California. One from France. One from Switzerland has been here since Thanksgiving. And two from Florida, bringing a fiancée and two grandchildren with them.
Granddad has to get ready for them!
Last night, we went out to a toy store. The place was packed. We waited nearly a half hour to reach the cashier.
But one Barbie… one plastic truck… and one strategy game later, we were ready for dinner at a trendy restaurant. In an old industrial space, the restaurant is named Parts & Labor. Practically all the waiters and waitresses had tattoos or piercings.
“We don’t believe in sustainable agriculture,” explained a young man. “I mean… nobody knows what that means. Instead, we buy locally sourced food, in season. And we only buy from responsible farmers.”
“What’s a responsible farmer?” Scrooge wanted to know.
“Oh… It’s a farmer who takes care of the land in a responsible way.”
After the obligatory B.S., we settled down to an appealing dinner…
This will be the last time you hear from us this year (except for “classics” republished from previous Diary entries). We will use this last contact to strike at an elusive target: fake news.
It is difficult to get a clean shot at fake news. Like a flock of birds, they all take flight at once. Besides, all news has a little bit of the counterfeit about it. There are two reasons for that.
First, fake news is what people want.
News is a form of entertainment. People pay for it. Naturally, they want entertainment that makes them feel smart, heroic, and honorable. That is, they want lies!
They don’t want to feel uncomfortable, inadequate, or stupid. So the last thing they want is any serious thought or real insight. The truth is too difficult to get ahold of and too bitter to swallow. They want news that goes down smooth… and makes them feel taller and slimmer.
Second, the farther you get from the hard facts – experienced firsthand – the fakier the news becomes.
The news you read in the paper concerns things done by people you’ve never met, that usually take place far away, acting on motives you can’t understand, based on compound fantasies, myths, and delusions. You can see this clearly by looking at the economic news.
The feds tell us that the inflation rate is 1.7%. They say the unemployment rate is 4.6%. They give us those numbers with decimal points and a straight face, as if they were facts.
But they are not facts at all, but merely confections – sugarcoated… hollow… and fattening.
The real numbers, meanwhile, are locked up in the basement, where they are beaten, bloodied, and intimidated by the statistical goons who work them over.
Fake news? All news is fake… at least to some degree. It almost all depends on ideas and theories that can’t be tested and can never be shown to be real facts.
You tell me the Dow almost hit 20,000 today or a Russian ambassador was shot dead. This is news. This is information. But it has absolutely no value without context.
A “Russian ambassador”?
Andrey Karlov was said to represent his country. But most people in Russia had never met him. Few had ever even heard of him. How could he – or any ambassador, for that matter – truly represent them?
Obviously, he could not. He was representing something else: “the state.” But what is that? Few people you ask could tell you.
This same state, whatever it is, is accused – by the CIA – of having “rigged” the U.S. presidential election.
How? By revealing what the Democratic candidate and her handlers were saying to one another privately.
The mainstream press, commentators, and kibitzers are up in arms. One member of Congress described it as a “war crime.”
The CIA knows a fake story when it sees one. According to Tim Weiner’s history of the CIA, Legacy of Ashes, the organization has spread so much fake news for so long, it wouldn’t know the truth if it got hit in the face with it.
It has missed almost all the important trends and events of the last half-century and has been wrong about practically everything.
It used propaganda and fake news to influence elections. When that didn’t get it the results it was after, it shifted to fomenting revolution, assassination, and regime change.
The whole story has so many levels of nuance and nonsense, you scarcely know where to begin to pry them apart.
The CIA, too, was at least partly responsible for the biggest, fakiest news story of the 21st century.
Thanks to its “weapons of mass destruction” fib, the U.S. spent nearly $5 trillion… and caused the premature deaths of as many as a million people (nobody knows for sure).
BY Nick Rokke, CFA Research Analyst, Bonner & Partners
About the Author: Alex is the chief investment strategist over at The Oxford Club, and today we share his thoughts on how to become a successful investor.
Stock market success has nothing to do with figuring out the economy…
It still astonishes me that the vast majority of investors – even ones who’ve been active for decades – don’t understand that there’s no correlation between economic growth and stock market performance from year to year.
Look back at history…
Equities routinely plunge during the good times and rally during the bad. If you know this – and truly understand it – why would you choose to invest your money based on someone’s economic forecast?
The same is true for market timing.
It’s easy to look in the rearview mirror and see when you should have been in the market and when you should have been out. But when you look ahead, it’s always a blank slate.
No guru or trading system can change that.
Even if you could somehow divine what the stock market is going to do next – which you can’t – you still wouldn’t know which stocks would outperform and which ones would lag.
According to an analysis conducted by market research firm Dunbar, timing market entry and exit failed miserably over a 20-year period.
The study measured the flow into and out of equity mutual funds among three categories of investors: the average investor, the investor that systematically invests, and the market timer.
Take a look…
Editor’s Note: Just like Bill, Alex knows that trying to time the market is a fool’s errand. That’s why he developed a new trading system based on one of the least-understood areas of the investment world – Dark Trades.
But you only have until midnight tonight to learn how these shadowy moves are generating big profits for investors who know how to use them. So watch here now before Alexander’s presentation goes offline.
Bond Guru Says to Go to Cash
Bill isn’t the only investor who is keeping a third of his portfolio in cash. Bond expert Mohamed El-Erian just said he moved his portfolio to have the same amount. Here’s why.
World’s Oldest Bank to be Nationalized
Banca Monte dei Paschi di Siena opened its doors in 1472. For 544 years, this bank has survived. But now it needs a large government bailout…
The Fed’s Only Escape Is to Trash the Dollar
The Fed’s reckless actions have completely doomed our financial system… and the only escape may be to trash the dollar. But that will have a major impact on gold.
Bill’s weeklong exploration of “fake” and “real” news continues to elicit some insightful responses from Diary readers. Here are the latest…
In [yesterday’s] commentary, you observe, “If we stopped caring about football, for example, the Super Bowl would vanish,” which is obviously true because there would be no one to watch the commercials.
You also state, “If we denied the validity of elections, there would be no votes to tally,” which, if everyone did so, would also be correct.
You go on to assert, “If we gave up on investing, the Dow would disappear,” which, a priori, would be so since the Dow depends on stock prices, which are the result of individuals buying and selling.
You wind up claiming, “And if we refused to recognize states or their ability to meddle in each other’s affairs, the cop would have had no reason to kill the ambassador in the first place.”
This is patently incorrect. Just because the individual does not care about the government doesn’t mean the government doesn’t care about the individual. In fact, mass refusal “to recognize states or their ability to meddle” will only make it easier for states to “meddle” or kill ambassadors or anyone else, or take any action against anyone who might interfere with the State’s ambitions.
– Webb G.
Hey, Bill! You could’ve also mentioned that today’s DJIA [Dow] tracks only ONE of the original companies on the list. That would be GE. Years ago in my (former) financial adviser’s office, there was a DJIA chart on the wall dating from 1930 showing a continuous up-and-to-the-right graph, obviously intended to show potential victims (aka clients, aka me) what their (my) investments would do. I bought a couple of funds and lost 40% within a couple of months. The stock chart looks great because they throw out any companies on the list who start to tank. Many former listeners went bankrupt.
Also, for those readers who think they are too damn smart to be fooled by fake news: You can’t evaluate news you never see! Fake News Flash, Sheeple! We are manipulated just as much (if not more) by the news we NEVER hear about than the distorted accounts that do reach our eyes and ears. News editors have your brain in their hands. If you don’t think so, you are proof that their system works perfectly.
– Gary C.
Fake news – does it have any use at all? Maybe one. An Anglican vicar was reading the newspaper while taking the train from London. A chap leaned over and said to him, "It’s all lies, you know."
"I know, old chap," the minister replied, "but at least I know what I’m being lied to about."
– John R.
Our friend and colleague Teeka Tiwari released a new 3-Minute Market Minder video – RED ALERT: Cash transaction BANS above $1,080 are now in effect…