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May 26, 2017 | Swimming Against the “River of No Returns

GUALFIN, ARGENTINA – Yesterday, an amazing storm blew up. The wind gusted up so much dust, we could barely see 10 feet in front of us. Dark clouds rushed overhead. Rain… rain!… came down in drops the size of coffee cups. Up in the mountains, light snow covered the peaks. Cozy Valley The storm swept […]

May 25, 2017 | Gold Beats Buffett

GUALFIN, ARGENTINA – We’re taking the doctor’s orders; 9,000 feet above sea level just doesn’t seem to work for us. So we moved down to the tiny casita we built near the vineyard, 1,000 feet lower. We spend the night there and commute back to the main house in the morning. New Adventure The casita […]

May 24, 2017 | Avoid These Popular Investments

GUALFIN, ARGENTINA – “What business school did you go to?” We were joking, of course. But the two young men needed an alternative point of view. In the course of getting their MBAs in Chicago, they had picked up some bad ideas about investing. “Shouldn’t we just buy a low-cost ETF that tracks the S&P […]

May 23, 2017 | Not a Good Place for a Heart Attack

GUALFIN, ARGENTINA – Have you ever wondered what you would do if you had a health emergency in a remote location? We never thought about it… until last week. Then we found out. Place at the End Up at the ranch… five hours from the nearest emergency room… your editor began having symptoms of what […]

May 22, 2017 | Introducing Our Doom Index

GUALFIN, ARGENTINA – Today, we look at what is going on in Venezuela. For amusement as well as for instruction. As long-term Diary readers know, we are connoisseurs of financial disaster. In Venezuela in 2017, we think we see an especially good vintage. But before we get to that, we introduce our Doom Index. — […]

May 19, 2017 | Ambushed by Originarios

GUALFIN, ARGENTINA – We rode out to one of the high valleys on Sunday. Leading the way were the ranch foreman, Gustavo, and his son, Agostín. Agostín is 10 years old. But he is already a gaucho – sure of himself on a horse… unafraid of the cows… ready to work from sunup to sundown, […]

May 18, 2017 | The Knives Come Out for Trump

GUALFIN, ARGENTINA – Yesterday, stocks fell. And volatility shot up. Reports Bloomberg: 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, […]

May 17, 2017 | How the Elites Betrayed Working-Class America

GUALFIN, ARGENTINA – The Dow was flat yesterday. Investors must have been distracted by the latest tempest in the Washington teapot. Did President Trump say something he shouldn’t have? He told the Russians that terrorists were trying to make bombs out of laptop computers. No kidding! Trump was careful to get the gunmen and the […]

May 16, 2017 | Collecting Rent With a Pistol

GUALFIN, ARGENTINA – Two very different things happened over the weekend. They are connected in a telling way. First, hackers hit some 200,000 computers in 150 countries with “ransomware.” Second, we received a summons to appear before a mandatory “mediation” with the “Diaguita community” – a group claiming indigenous rights that is trying to take […]

May 15, 2017 | Trump Can’t “Prime the Pump

GUALFIN, ARGENTINA – “The U.S. Economy Is Back on Track,” read a Bloomberg headline over the weekend. Apparently, inflation and consumer spending picked up last month. We are so glad to hear it. And last week, New York Fed President William Dudley said the U.S. central bank might begin lightening its load of bonds this […]

May 12, 2017 | It Is Always Dawnest Before the Dark

GUALFIN, ARGENTINA – Pssst… Dear reader… Want to make some big money, fast? We’re not gamblers. We’re not speculators. And we’re no good at predicting the future. But we see what looks like an RSP, a Really Simple Pattern, that may pay off. We summarize in poetic terms: It is always dawnest before the dark. […]

May 11, 2017 | Refighting the “Civil” War

SALTA, ARGENTINA – Public life is always a hoot… People of sound mind and reasonable judgment in their personal lives take on characters full of unwarranted confidence and intolerant insistence in public. The couple whose son has a “drug problem” wants the government to start a nationwide treatment program. The guy who can’t get his […]

May 10, 2017 | An Amazingly Simple Investing Strategy

GUALFIN, ARGENTINA – As longtime Diary sufferers know, we don’t do real stock analysis. We just look for Really Simple Patterns (RSPs). The simplest we’ve discovered so far: If a market is cheap now, it will probably be less cheap before you get around to investing in it. If it is very expensive, it will […]

May 9, 2017 | U.S. Stocks Are Disastrously Overvalued

SALTA, ARGENTINA – Today, we write about corporate earnings. Unless you’re playing the game of “greater fool” – buying in the hope that someone out there is willing to pay a higher price – the only reason to buy a stock is for its earnings. As a shareholder, you participate in the business’s profits. All […]

May 8, 2017 | The Problem With Phony Money…

SALTA, ARGENTINA – Yesterday, we visited the museum in the center of Salta. It is a museum of the history of the city and the province, set in the repurposed town hall in the main square. We had begun the day by going to mass in the old cathedral across the square – an ornate […]

May 6, 2017 | The 21st Century Has Been a Big, Fat Flop

CACHI, ARGENTINA – Here at the Diary we have fun ridiculing the pretensions, absurdities, and hypocrisies of the ruling classes. But there is a serious side to it, too. Mockery makes us laugh. And laughing helps us wiggle free from the kudzu of fake news. Seeming Contradiction Reading the Diary mailbag (see below), it is […]

May 5, 2017 | Recession Dead Ahead

GUALFIN, ARGENTINA – Today, an update on our Doom Index… But first, a brief note on life at the ranch… Yesterday, we did our second cattle roundup; the government requires two vaccinations 21 days apart. So, the gauchos saddled up before dawn and set out for the huge pasture to the east of the house. […]

May 3, 2017 | We’re With POTUS

GUALFIN, ARGENTINA – Poor DJT. It doesn’t seem to matter what he says; the press is all over him. A presidential tweet: “Our country needs a good ‘shutdown.’” The commentators couldn’t believe it. It was “unthinkable,” they said, for a sitting president to suggest closing up shop of his own government! But once again, we’re […]

May 2, 2017 | Head Toward Civilization, Then Take a Left

GUALFIN, ARGENTINA – Today, we leave the world of overpriced stocks and claptrap politics behind. Instead, we will just tell you what happened over the weekend here at the ranch. Monday was May Day in Argentina, as it was in much of the world. It was beautiful autumn weather here in the Calchaquí Valley. The […]

May 1, 2017 | Tech Wreck Coming

GUALFIN, ARGENTINA – This week, we got a visit from an Austrian man who recently retired and is spending five years traveling the world. He has a specially outfitted four-wheel-drive Toyota with such marvels as heated water for a shower, a stove, a kayak, and an iridium-based alarm system. Bill encounters a truck prepared to […]

April 28, 2017 | Trump’s Tax Plan Would Bankrupt the Empire

GUALFIN, ARGENTINA – Trump! Great guy! Big, dumb, hopeless. Menacing. Reckless. And completely loveable. Here’s The New York Times’ list of “winners” from his tax proposal: Businesses with high tax rates. The plan would cut the 35% corporate income tax to 15%. While few businesses pay the full 35% rate, those that pay something close […]

April 27, 2017 | We ♥ Donald Trump

GUALFIN, ARGENTINA – Team Trump came forward yesterday and laid what it claimed was the “biggest tax cut in history” on the table. Before we go on, we should say “We love this guy.” If you’ve been reading the Diary for a while, you know that, thanks to the feds, rich people have gotten much […]

April 26, 2017 | A New Wave of Violence in the Valley

GUALFIN, ARGENTINA – “Watch out, Bill. The originarios almost killed someone up the valley,” our lawyer warned us. “He’s still in a coma.” The latest news isn’t very encouraging. The originario problem was supposed to have calmed down. Ranch Invasion Last year, they invaded our ranch and blocked the roads. We called the police, who […]

April 25, 2017 | “The Donald” at Bat

GUALFIN, ARGENTINA – Once again, the big man steps up to the plate. Once again, he points his bat at the far bleachers. This is going to be “bigger, I believe, than any tax cut in history.” And once again, the fans go wild. The Dow shot up 216 points yesterday as investors dreamed of […]

April 24, 2017 | We’ve Been Hacked

GUALFIN, ARGENTINA – Remember that property we bought in Virginia? The agent had asked that we send a down payment and promised to send wiring details. But when the details arrived, there was something fishy about them. “Why would a real estate agent in Virginia ask for money to be wired to a bank in […]

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