Monday, December 25, 2017

2017 Year In Review | Peak Prosperity - by David Collum

“He is funnier than you are.”
~David Einhorn, Greenlight Capital, on Dave Barry’s Year in Review
Every December, I write a survey trying to capture the year’s prevailing themes. I appear to have stiff competition—the likes of Dave Barry on one extreme1 and on the other, Pornhub’s marvelous annual climax that probes deeply personal preferences in the world’s favorite pastime.2 (I know when I’m licked.) My efforts began as a few paragraphs discussing the markets on Doug Noland’s bear chat board and monotonically expanded to a tome covering the orb we call Earth. It posts at Peak Prosperity, reposts at ZeroHedge, and then fans out from there. Bearishness and right-leaning libertarianism shine through as I spelunk the Internet for human folly to couch in snarky prose while trying to avoid the “expensive laugh” (too much setup).3 I rely on quotes to let others do the intellectual heavy lifting.
“Consider adding more of your own thinking and judgment to the mix . . . most folks are familiar with general facts but are unable to process them into a coherent and actionable framework.”
~Tony Deden, founder of Edelweiss Holdings, on his second read through my 2016 Year in Review
“Just the facts, ma’am.”
~Joe Friday
By October, I have usually accrued 500 single-spaced pages of notes, quotes, and anecdotes. Fresh ideas occasionally emerge, but most of my distillation is an intellectual recycling program relying heavily on fair use laws.4 I often suffer from pareidolia—random images or sounds perceived as significant. Regarding the extent that self-serving men and women of wealth do sneaky crap, I am an out-of-the-closet conspiracy theorist. If you think conspiracies do not exist, then you are a card-carrying idiot. Currently, locating the increasingly fuzzy fact–fiction interfaces is nearly impossible thanks to the post-election bewitching of 50 percent of the populace.
“The best ideas come as jokes. Make your thinking as funny as possible.”
~David Ogilvy, marketing expert
You might be asking, “What’s with the title, Dave? My 401K is doing great, and I own a few Bitcoin!” Yes, indeed: your 401K fiddled its way to new highs day after day, but this too shall pass—it always does—and not without some turbulence. This year was indeed a tough one to survey. As many peer through beer goggles at intoxicatingly rising markets, I kept seeing dead people (Figure 1).
“We seem to be living in the riskiest moment of our lives, and yet the stock market seems to be napping: I admit to not understanding it.”
~Richard Thaler, winner of the 2017 Nobel Prize in Economics
Figure 1. An original by CNBC's Jeff Macke, chartist and artist extraordinaire.
A poem for Dave's Year In Review
The bubble in everything grew
This nut from Cornell
Say's we're heading for hell
As I look at the data…#MeToo
Some will notice that in decidedly political sections, the term “progressives” is used pejoratively. Their behavior has become nearly incomprehensible to me. My almost complete neglect of the right wing loonies may reflect some bias, but politically, they have taken a knee. They have become irrelevant. Free speech is a recurring theme, introducing interesting paradoxes for employee–employer relationships.
Some say I have no filter. They obviously have no clue what I want to say. In case my hints are too subtle, I offer the following:
I sit in front of a computer 16 hours a day, at least three of which are dedicated to non-chemistry pursuits. I’m a huge fan of Adam Taggart and Chris Martenson (Peak Prosperity), Tony Greer (TG Macro), Doug Noland (Credit Bubble Bulletin), Grant Williams (Real Vision and TTMYGH), Raoul Pal (Real Vision), Bill Fleckenstein (Fleckenstein Capital), James Grant (Grant’s Interest Rate Observer), and Campus Reform—but there are so many more. ZeroHedge is by far my preferred consolidator of news. Twitter is a window to the world if managed correctly. Good luck with that. And don’t forget it’s public! Everything needs an open mind, discerning eye, and a coarse-frit filter.
“You are given a ticket to the freak show. When you’re born in America, you are given a front row seat, and some of us get to sit there with notebooks.”
~George Carlin, comedian
Footnotes appear as superscripts with hyperlinks in the “Links” section. The whole beast can be downloaded as a single PDF xxhere or viewed in parts—the sections are reasonably self-contained—via the linked contents as follows:
Part 1
·         Introduction
·         Sources
·         Contents
·         My Personal Year in Review
·         Investing
·         Economy
·         Broken Markets
·         Market Valuations
·         Market Sentiment
·         Volatility
·         Stock Buybacks
·         Gold
·         Bitcoin
·         Housing and Real Estate
·         Pensions
·         Inflation versus Deflation
·         Bonds
·         Banks
·         Corporate Scandals
·         The Fed
·         Europe
·         Venezuela
·         North Korea
·         China
·         Middle East
·         Links in Part 1 
Part 2
·         Natural Disasters
·         Price Gouging
·         Sports
·         Civil Liberties
·         Antifa
·         Harvey Weinstein and Hollywood
·         Campus Politics
·         Political Scandals
·         Clintons
·         Russiagate
·         Media
·         Trump
·         Las Vegas
·         Conclusion
·         Books
·         Acknowledgements
·         Links in Part 2
My Personal Year in Review

(Read the rest at link below – this is long)

Of course, the war in Syria is a bloodbath that has left an estimated 500,000 dead310 and millions displaced into Turkey and Europe. The demonization of Assad continued to focus on gas attacks that nobody seems to believe happened. None of this makes sense to me. None.
Given its length, we've had to break this report in half so as not to crash your browser. Click here to read Part 2 of David Collum's 2017 Year in Review, available free to all readers.