SAN MARTIN, ARGENTINA – “Uh… was this a good idea?”
Elizabeth was looking at what used to be the kitchen.
If a real estate agent called it a “ruin,” he could be accused of overselling it.
It will take a lot of work and money to bring it up to the ruin stage.
The kitchen in Bill’s new ranch house will need renovations
No Easy Job
“I wouldn’t go in there, if I were you,” said the caretaker. “The roof could fall in at any time.”
But the roof had already caved in. There is as much as three feet of dirt and debris on the floor in some places. The windows and doors have been removed. The adobe walls lean in or out… sometimes both.
As we picked our way from room to room, checking overhead for falling beams… and underfoot for broken glass… we realized this was not going to be an easy job.
“It will take more than paint to bring this up to code,” we joked with Elizabeth.
But she was in no joking mood…
“I feel like I’ve lived through enough renovation projects already,” she said, looking as though she would prefer to go home.
Naked Dirt Walls
But the bug had already bitten your editor…
We put in so much time trying to connect the gauzy dots of economics, investments, and politics, we long to grab a hammer and whack something real.
We look forward to bringing in a backhoe and knocking out derelict walls. We relish the texture of real wood and the weight of real stones.
We aim not to argue, wonder, or guess… but to put things straight – to plumb the doors and walls so that a line drawn from the center of the earth out into space would run through them perfectly… and to level the floors, lintels, cabinets, and sills so that they are at right angles to the plumbed walls.
We want to do something no economist, commentator, or kibitzer can do: put things in order… to make things that are true and solid… make them work properly… so they are pleasing to the eye and comfortable to the body.
But now, the house has no electricity, no plumbing, no running water, no roof, no windows, no doors, no flooring. All it has are naked dirt walls. And those are falling down.
“It would be a lot easier just to bulldoze this down and start again,” said the prudent half of the family.
“Yes, but anyone can build a new house. It takes real imagination to figure out how to put something like this back in service.”
“Most people would say it takes a crazy person.”
Crossing the River
Antonio, the caretaker, seemed to agree.
He stood by the main entrance and waited. He had a long face… the kind that would be suitable on an undertaker. He seemed to be waiting for a chance to enter the business.
The farm is in two sections, one on each side of the river. The house is on the far side. To get there, you have to drive across the river. In dry season – most of the year, and sometimes all of it – getting across is no problem. You just have to know where to cross.
Ramón had already showed us where not to cross. So, we didn’t follow his example. Instead, we selected a ford farther upriver where we’d seen the backhoe – which came to the rescue yesterday – cross.
In the wet season… and after occasional rain showers in the mountains… the river swells, and there is no getting across at all. Then, we will drive to the nearby village of Molinos and check into the local hotel.
“Could we just cut short the whole adventure,” Elizabeth pleaded, “and check into the hotel now?”
“Don’t be silly,” we replied. “This is going to be fun. And don’t forget why we’re doing this. I almost died… or thought I was dying… at 9,000 feet. Here, we’re only at about 7,000 feet.”
“Why don’t we just stay at 9,000 feet?” came the response.
“I’ll take the risk.”
Editor’s Note: To catch up on Bill’s near-death experience at 9,000 feet, read on here.
Market Insight: The Trump Rally Falls Short
BY CHRIS LOWE, EDITOR AT LARGE, Bonner & partners
That’s how President Trump described in a tweet yesterday the gains in the S&P 500 since his election.
Today’s chart tracks the gains for the S&P 500 in the first 11 months after presidential elections (the time that’s passed since Trump was elected).
The performance under President Trump has been the seventh-best in history (19%).
But it’s not unprecedented…
Gains under presidents John F. Kennedy (24%), George H.W. Bush (31%), and Herbert Hoover (35%) were higher.
And gains after Bill Clinton’s second election (38%) and Franklin D. Roosevelt’s first election (41%) were roughly twice as high.
– Chris Lowe
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“Bond King” Bill Gross is an influential bond investor. He is one of the few investors whose name is known outside Wall Street. He has a new message: Today’s stock market is phony.
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Houston, Texas was recently the victim of massive floods from Hurricane Harvey. Much of the town is still underwater. Now, shrewd investors are headed to the Texas city, and it’s for a surprising reason.
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After years of financial mismanagement, states like Illinois are in the midst of a pension crisis. Colleague Nick Giambruno shows the one unconventional move governments could take to avert this crisis, and reveals how you can profit…
In the mailbag, readers are excited to see that Bill is back at the ranch…
This is GREAT! A new Ranch, a new adventure, cattle drives, roping, branding, more stories. Keep my inbox full. This is a brand new opportunity and am I excited for you. Good luck, Bill.
– James H.
I’m glad that you have found another way to beef up your ranch. But perhaps you should also plant a crop of maca. It sells in the raw organic market.
Maca powder has been an important staple in the diet of indigenous Andean cultures for over 2,000 years. It grows at altitudes above 10,000 feet where little else survives. Maca is a root vegetable believed to help increase energy, reduce fatigue, and improve libido. Ancient Incan warriors were legendary for consuming generous amounts of maca in preparation for battle, significantly maximizing their stamina and energy levels.
While having breakfast of this stuff, which tastes good, I read the above and thought of you and the 10,000 feet. Wishing you all well.
– Richard S.
Meanwhile, more readers think Bill should be considered for Fed chair…
One of your readers, “Andrew C.,” opined in Tuesday’s Mailbag about Trump’s potential Fed appointee’s opportunity to "stack the deck." So I say it’s time, once again, for you to write your letter of availability, this time to Trump, offering your services as Chairman of the Fed. Hey… stranger things have happened.
– Tex N.
In Case You Missed It…
If you have $75, then you have all the capital you need to potentially earn millions of dollars in the cryptocurrency market.
That’s the message from our colleague and cryptocurrency expert Teeka Tiwari. Teeka has just put the final touches on what he calls the Bitcoin Millionaire Master Plan, a crash course on cryptos that works even for complete beginners. Here’s the entire story on the Master Plan, including how you can get started for free…