GUALFIN, ARGENTINA – Yesterday, stocks fell.
And volatility shot up.
The Dow Jones Industrial Average tumbled more than 370 points, Treasuries rallied the most since July and volatility spiked higher as the turmoil surrounding the Trump administration roiled financial markets around the globe.
Major U.S. stock indexes tumbled the most in eight months, while the CBOE Volatility Index [which measures investors’ expectations of price swings on the S&P 500] jumped the most since the U.K. voted to leave the European Union last June, shattering the calm that gripped markets in the past month as the crisis threatened to derail the policy agenda that helped push equities to records as recently as Monday.
The few speculators who took our suggestion last Friday to buy the VIX – a bet that volatility would go up – should have done well. (More on that below in today’s Market Insight.)
On the Warpath
Yesterday, news broke that President Trump’s deputy attorney general, Rod Rosenstein, has appointed former FBI chief Robert Mueller to lead an investigation into possible ties between the Trump campaign and the Russians.
And with it, the risk of internecine warfare within the Deep State has increased.
Some factions – the ones that wear Armani suits from Manhattan or gold braid from Northern Virginia – back the commander in chief.
Other insiders – notably the fake-news media, the universities, and the D.C. establishment – have left the reservation and are on the warpath against the Great White Father in Washington.
How will it turn out?
It’s too bad Mr. Trump does not read history. He might get some good ideas. Or some bad ones.
About what to expect at this stage of the empire’s decline. At least, he might brighten up his conversation with historical references and wink when he pulls our leg, just to let us in on the joke.
The president is charged with chatting with the former FBI director about ongoing investigations. Maybe he even suggested, sotto voce, that it might be good for Mr. Comey’s career if he eased up on the investigation of Trump’s former national security adviser, Mike Flynn.
These things hardly seem newsworthy, let alone impeachment worthy. Most people yawn and turn the channel to WWE wraslin’.
It’s more entertaining. And more authentic.
Lunacy… and Pizzazz
At this late, degenerate period of an empire’s development, we need more pizzazz… more lunacy… and more sex.
The president might better turn the Capitol into a brothel, for example. He might declare his horse a priest. Or our favorite: He might put on that mischievous smile of his and tell us he is to be worshiped… not kicked around like an empty can.
“Neos Helios” (the new sun), he should call himself; at least Latin scholars and Roman-era history buffs would get a good laugh.
Roman Emperor Caligula was accused of all these things.
And as his story shows, as an empire matures and degrades, you need more colorful… and more grotesque… crimes and misdemeanors to keep up with it.
The old rules and virtues that made it so successful are forgotten.
Elbows come out… then knives. More and more power ends up in the hands of the chief executive… who often ends up with a knife in his back.
Rome had been a republic with democratic traditions that stretched back hundreds of years. But after Julius Caesar and a 20-year civil war, the old system was gone.
Caligula rose to the purple after his granduncle Tiberius died… and after most of his own family had been murdered.
At first, he seemed like a good man for the job. Young, attractive… with an easy familiarity with the army. But then, the young emperor fell ill. He recovered. But he started acting funny. Erratic. Strange. Unreliable.
He began having members of his own family exiled or executed. He spent lavishly, running through the fortune left to him by Tiberius in just a few years. Then he took vanity to a whole new level by appearing in public dressed as Hercules or Apollo.
Roman historian Suetonius tells us that Caligula quarreled with the senate, started wars that made no sense, and slept with his sisters.
Finally, the insiders had had enough. After he announced he intended to move to Egypt and be worshiped as a living god, members of the Praetorian Guard – an elite unit of the Imperial Roman Army – stabbed Caligula to death.
They killed the First Lady and the First Daughter, too, for good measure.
Then they found their Mike Pence – Caligula’s uncle Claudius – hiding behind a curtain.
And they made him emperor.
Tomorrow… how the originarios intend to steal our ranch… and how your editor intends to stop them…
Market Insight: Volatility Spikes
BY CHRIS LOWE, EDITOR AT LARGE, Bonner & partners
A bet on a rising VIX would have paid off handsomely at the end of last week.
The VIX – aka the CBOE Volatility Index – tells you how cheap or expensive it is to buy insurance in the options market against big moves in the S&P 500.
The more expensive that insurance is, the more fearful investors are of volatility ahead. The cheaper it is, the more complacent investors are.
As you can see from today’s chart, the VIX was at a reading of 10.4 when Bill wrote about it in last Friday’s Diary.
But following news that investigations into collusion between the Trump campaign and Russia aren’t going away any time soon, it’s shot up 50% since then.
— Chris Lowe
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Today, a response to one reader’s hypothesis that the WannaCry ransomware attack was a “false flag” operation.
The hypothesis that the WannaCry ransomware is a false-flag attack intended to lead to a ban on cryptocurrencies is interesting, but almost certainly false.
That is because the narrative includes government bungling – the code being stolen from the NSA. To elicit popular outcry to have the government rescue us from ransomware by banning the means by which the crooks obtain payment, the narrative should have had the malicious code come from somewhere other than the U.S. government.
– Scott G.
Meanwhile, readers continue to weigh in on Bill’s recent essay, “Refighting the ‘Civil’ War.”
The Declaration of Independence was a justification for a group of colonies to revolt against the mother country due to the lack of representation in Parliament. It has had no basis in United States law.
Had the South won, they would have established a new political fact, just as the former colonies did when they defeated England, but the South lost. All you are doing is encouraging the progressive crazies in California to think they have a right to secede.
– Ira C.
Good insight. I have been somewhat offended by the removal of the statues [of Confederate generals] myself. And I’m a Yankee lefty. It was what it was. Times and opinions change but the deeds of the dead are done deeds.
– Rick C.
This is funny, I signed up for Bill Bonner’s Diary today, and most of it was about my great-great-grandfather, Mister Beauregard. Thank you, a fun read.
– Jean P.B.
In Case You Missed It…
In September of last year, chief investment strategist for Bonner & Partners Chris Mayer recommended Tucows (TCX) to his subscribers. In just over six months, the stock shot up 100%.
Next week, Chris is holding a free investing masterclass for readers. Over the course of four days, Chris will show you how he spots stock market winners like Tucows before they take off. You can reserve your spot for this free event