When an investor focuses on short-term investments, he or she is observing the variability of the portfolio, not the returns –

in short, being fooled by randomness.  

-Nassim Nicholas Taleb

 

Good Morning,

It was late 2003 and we were just pulling into McDonald’s in Orlando.  We had landed earlier and grabbed a rental car for the week.   It was to be the first trip for Max to visit all the Orlando Theme parks.  Disney, the water parks, Sea World – the whole library, LOL.  Max was fresh off seeing Finding Nemo – 12 times I think – and we were on a hunt to, well, “find Nemo, Dad…”

I was in the middle of parking the car and my cell phone rang.  I finished parking and grabbed the call just before it went to VM.  I said, “Hello…”, and then there was that pause and some static – the same pause you get when you know it is a call from overseas.

It turns out, it was a business reporter from The London Times.  She had been given my name by an advisor named Alan Steel from Scotland.  The oddity of the next few questions about how we saw the top in the tech bubble and “nailed the lows” as Alan apparently suggested to them at the time, is that I had never heard the name and had never been to Scotland.

I was about to learn again that God works in mysterious ways indeed. 

The London Times interview went well and the week with Max at the theme parks was a memory for life.  We did find Nemo.  

When I returned, the first thing I did when I got to the desk was look up Alan Steel Asset Management in Scotland.  As it turns out, Alan is famous there, well respected and runs one of the largest RIA firms in the region.  You know me – and can likely guess what I did next.  I picked up the phone and gave him a ring.  LOL.

It is quite hard to make sense of this for you but after the quick laughter between us as to how the call came about – an odd feeling came over me, as though I had known this gentleman and the places he referenced there – my entire life.  We quickly arrived at an idea – I should come and visit and speak to his clients over there about what was unfolding in America.

Alan greeted me at the airport on the red eye arrival so I was still a bit tired.  I had a nice room in a small Inn, straight out of a Christmas story book.  It took a day to get my time adjusted – but I was to meet all of his team at their offices later and we would be right back to this Inn for a steak dinner that evening.  What a wonderful group of people he has put together – all very kind, smart and helpful.

And the dinner – set to last a couple hours, went into the early hours of the morning and I was introduced to two of the best red wines you have ever had:  Two Hands and Nine Popes.

The next night, after two great meetings with dozens of his clients, we were off to Edinburgh the next morning for two more sessions.  There is a great little pub right across from his offices there, so as you may have guessed, we had a beer after work on that second day.  I remember telling Steve and Alan (Steve is Alan’s long-time business partner), “Guys, I know this is odd – but I swear I have been here before.  It does not feel like I am visiting a place for the first time…nothing like it.”

That sense was even stronger when we got to the meetings in Edinburgh.  When I got home from the first trip, I recall a phone call to my Mom.  I was telling her about the trip and this eerie feeling in the recesses of my mind where I felt like I had been there before.  You can imagine the surprise when she stated, “Well, you never really knew your Grandfather on my side, he passed away when you were three.  But Tiger was born and raised in Edinburgh and was there until he was 25 years old and came to the US.”

As I said, God works in mysterious ways.

Alan and his wonderful wife Fran – and our family – went on to become great friends.  No time or space changed that.

Alan, always with a twinkle in his eye, a great story to tell and a smile on his face was a dear friend.  He stood up to anything.  Never backed down – always worked for his client.  I know that when he got told late in August that he had another battle to fight, he entered the ring with great confidence.

One never likes to cover bad outcomes…but alas, sometimes we must. 

Our good friend we referenced often in these notes over the years, Alan Steel – www.alansteel.com – lost his fight with Covid last week.

Fran, his family, friends, clients and wonderful teammates at the office in Linlithgow are in our hearts and prayers.

And Alan?  Ah yes, my hunch is that he is sitting on the beach, hat down a bit, probably working on his iPad…and the red wine is flowing as he smiles and tips a glass to his new audience already gathered – and to us as well.

RIP my friend – you won’t be forgotten.

The Selling is Working – Almost Perfectly

The overdone nature of the panic yesterday is a welcome sign.  I know this is repetitive but sometimes that is required.  Your notes yesterday went into great detail about these elements and not much chan ged – except the fear levels of course.

…read ’em and reap:  over 80% of the audience does not like stocks.  Markets have never been down a year later when these readings are etched in stone.   Note also in the second image, the low number of stocks remaining above their 50-day moving averages has only been lower 7 times in the last 20 years!  Each of those times were:

a) very significant and valuable low periods as time unfolded afterward, and

b) were periods of real “disasters” – not with records being set in all wealth and earnings categorie

 

This snapshot below is with all the dots connected for years:  do we really, really think things are as bad as they were during the global shutdown?  That is classic fear getting out of control.  Good stuff for the long-term investor

 

We will have to wait a few more weeks before Q3 data begin to flow – but the stage if being set very well.  As stated often, one would MUCH rather prefer seeing weakness into earnings seasons.  It triggers, historically, far more “surprises to the upside” as the many ghosts in the darkness never materialize after all.

Here is the internal structure – a solid base forming as weak hands leave – check it out – and ask yourself, what happened AFTER the lows of 2009?  The lows of Brexit?  The lows of the China Tariff War – and the lows of the Pandemic Shutdown?  What happened AFTER every one seemingly hated stocks

 

What Next?

In a perfect world, we see more chop and angst building for the upcoming earnings season.  We have plenty of chatter for the press the scare the investor audience with – variants, debt ceilings, tax and spend bills, plenty of political mess, China, Evergrande bailouts – etc etc etc.  The lesson?

Don’t fret as this likely doesn’t fix itself in a day.  Letting this one sting a bit as we get closer to more blowout earnings will be just about perfect.  The 2022 and 2023 data suggest a solid launch from this eventual foundation being built into the market right now.

The second lesson:

Never sway on this:  China will not overtake the US as the center of global economic power – no matter how much the media works to convince you otherwise.  After they face their own real estate debt issues – as we did – they will then face their demographic headwind reality.

Demogronomics® keeps this VERY simple for all:

The US is the only developed nation on Earth with replacement level birthrates.  We will lead the globe for decades to come.

Remember, – the real surprises remain solidly to the upside.

Buckle up and remain patient my friends.

 

Until we see you again, may your journey be grand

and your legacy significant.