November 2022: Views From the Crowsnest

Rather than attempt to re-live, re-frame or re-litigate the last two years of our upside-down world at a granular level, I’ll be as succinct as I can muster; I’ll revert to being annoyingly practical and direct – for which I’m rather infamous. We recently attended the online version of Martin Armstrong’s World Economic Conference (WEC) – my 8th consecutive edition. Each successive WEC builds upon previous conferences and Marty’s ongoing blog posts, distills critical information between familiar anecdotes, and most importantly provides “over the horizon” insights into geopolitics and economics.

Spoiler alert: there’s bad news, and good.

While some of Marty’s political views are too acerbic and cutting for some (not me), all of his forecasts are generated by his Socrates program. Over time, both his politic opinions and market forecasts have proven freakishly accurate.

First the bad news, none of which will surprise dedicated Money Talks and Armstrong blog followers. In summary, the unsustainable systems and ideologies, the incoherent solutions that exacerbate rather than repair, and the glaring conflicts of interest that seem to drive so much of the modern world…they’re all accelerating on a collision course. That’s the red pill part.

Specifically, elected western leaders are intent upon forcing “green solutions” before they can adequately replace oil, natural gas and nuclear power. Result: soaring energy and food costs, rolling blackouts, supply shortfalls and economic hardship for all but the wealthiest. My late mother’s expression warning of such folly was, “Don’t throw away your old shoes until you have new ones.”

Europe is obviously being hit the worst, and this winter will undoubtedly bring news of innocent citizens dying of cold and hunger. Here in North America, supplies of essentials will be more reliable, but wages never rise as quickly as prices during stagflation.

Sanctions on Russia’s energy exports, destruction of two submerged natural gas pipelines, unenforceable price caps and incessant bluster from EU, NATO, UK and US spokespeople have hurt the west exponentially more than Russia. In fact, they’ve driven China, Iran and North Korea closer to Russia as the power axis opposing the west. I call these boomerang sanctions.

All the while, the western MSM transcribes press releases from the relevant institutions. Gone are the days when media outlets consistently engage in acts of journalism. They stoke the tribalist impulses that escalate violence, e.g. Putin is evil and Zelensky is a hero. It’s simplistic and very effective; nuance is relegated to the dust bin. The MSM seems most concerned with staying in the good graces of the powerful, rather than informing the public, occasionally questioning obviously false official narratives…thereby supporting the continued escalation of the war in Ukraine. They care not about the death, destruction and displacement of hundreds of thousands still in Ukraine or the millions who fled the conflict early on.

And predictably, the military industrial complex (MIC) is making bank as they ramp up production of weapons to replace those sent to Ukraine. Western stockpiles are dangerously low and will take years to rebuild to minimal readiness levels. This proxy war with Russia will also provide a plausible excuse, “cover” if you will, for the accelerating collapse of UK and European bond markets…and the insolvency of public pensions throughout the region.

Governments, big finance, mainstream media and the MIC all have naked conflicts of interest. Who cares about the death of people thousands of miles away?

This is NOT a black pill situation by any means. It would be easy to descend into despair for the future, including our financial wellbeing, were it not for the fact that we can indeed see over the horizon. It’s not that the forecasts call for peace, stability and a rapid return to business as usual; they don’t. The saving grace is that we can see the problems coming and take defensive measures to minimize the damage…at least the financial damage to our nest eggs. And knowing when and where to shift for recovery will help heal the financial wounds. That’s the white pill/good news part.

In early January 2023 we’ll be presenting our next webinar, and will share some more specific insights from the WEC and other independent sources we’ve come to trust based on their consistent accuracy. Here are a few areas we’ll be addressing: equity market volatility early in 2023, the path ahead for fossil fuels and their producers, the final bottom of the precious metals markets before they enter a robust bull market in all currencies, and the future of $USD as the world’s de-facto reserve currency.

April and May 2023 appear to be the timing targets of escalation, panic cycles and directional changes in MANY of the countries and financial markets that most affect our clients. Thus, we’ll be sharing as much as we can with our Portfolio Managers in the weeks ahead. In sports and investments, “offense sells tickets but defense wins championships.”

As this will be our final broad communication of 2022, please accept our entire team’s sincere wishes for a blessed Christmas, Hanukah, or whatever occasion you might celebrate. We’re truly blessed to live here in North America, despite the many challenges we continue to experience. Re-connect as you can with family and others you hold dear…our collective souls need the refreshment and sustenance that only loving, face to face, human connection can offer.

Patience and discipline are accretive to your wealth, health and happiness – so focus on these.

Andrew H. Ruhland, CFP

Founder, Integrated Wealth Management Inc.