Politically Incorrect Investing And Weather Forecasting
Wallace, Idaho – Seattle, Portland and the Pacific Northwest in general got huge amounts of ink and video for what we would describe here in the Bitterroots as a skiff of snow or a heavy frost, but is to coastal wimps a blizzard, a Category 5 disaster: A Serious Inconvenience.
In Seattle's case – Seattle having long ago supplanted Oregon, or Takoma Park, New Jersey, or Berserkely, California in all matters politically correct – the city added to the grief of all its myriad Volvo drivers who lack decent traction even in the best of weather by neglecting to salt the streets to melt away any of the accumulating ice and packed snow.
Seattle's rationale for leaving its drivers, bus-riders and cops in abject peril? They are afraid of the impact salt might have on Puget Sound, which at last we checked is a body of salt water (it's connected to the Pacific Ocean). Which is the equivalent to worrying about what might happen to the atmosphere were some evil industry to release air into it – a worry no doubt held some parishoners of the Church of Global Warming.
Those of us who live in mining districts are of course familiar with this form of illogic. We are forbidden here in the Silver Valley from using black slag from the old Bunker Hill smelter on our roads – and there are miles and miles of it parked next to the South Fork of the Coeur d'Alene River – because this inert (at room temperature) silica might, were it heated to several thousand degrees, release a molecule of lead into said river. Nevermind it was the best traction stuff devised by mankind and it wouldn't have turned the South Fork (or Puget Sound) the least bit salt(ier). We live and die by edicts manufactured by bureaucrats residing in the ivory towers of EPA Region X Headquarters in aforementioned Seattle and thus we use salt instead, which runs down the South Fork to, eventually, the Columbia River to Portland, whence it is deposited into the Pacific Ocean, which, please recall, is connected to Puget Sound.
Other outrages abound as well. Exactly one week before Christmas, the Congress of the United Snakes gave each of its members an average $4,700 annual pay raise, meaning the genius House Speaker Nancy Pelosi will now be digging $217,000/year from the public trough in direct pay, in addition to her private use of a government jet gratis to commute to and from work and other perquisites our hard-working public “servants” feel themselves entitled to. Lesser members of Congress must scrape by on $169,300 per year.
We did some research whilst waiting for the Christmas roast to finish, wondering how the Bernie Madoff swindle stacked up against the mining industry's worst-ever money scandal, that of the infamous Bre-X. Bre-X, you recall, was a Canadian junior that in 1995 hinted it had landed a huge gold find on the island of Borneo. Bre-X shares ran up from pennies to a peak of (CAN)$286.50. But there was no gold find at all; the assay samples had been “salted” with gold from other properties. A geologist in the middle of it all either fell, jumped or was pushed from a helicopter. At the peak of the Bre-X share-buying frenzy, the company's market cap reached (US)$4.4 billion – not even a tenth of the amount of money that Madoff, just one Wall Street fund manager out of hundreds of bankster and broker crooks, claims to have screwed his customers out of.
There is a lesson here: the very worst that the most nefarious of mining promoters has ever been able to serve up is chump change. Those “liars standing next to a hole in the ground” are absolute pikers compared to what the guys who take your congressman to lunch, dinner, drinking and golfing every day routinely cook up. And while our own portfolio of mining juniors certainly took a drubbing in 2008, it was nothing compared to the widows, orphans and pensioners who put their faith in the Congress and the money managers. At least we still hold something of value; they've been wiped out.
The beauty of the current situation is that hard-rock mining issues have nowhere to go but up. Underlying their eviscerated market caps are properties of tangible value, of silver, gold, copper, lead and zinc. All this talk of deflation is long-term (we mean in terms of months) utter nonsense. Between the Fed and the United Snakes Treasury, the helicopter load of U.S. Fednotes being rained down on the planet promises to be the most hugely inflationary event since the Weimar Republic. Plus, the trillion U$D China holds will gradually ooze into the commodity markets; the Middle Kingdom has resumed its imports of copper. Metals are about to get very, very expensive.
Contrarians willing to endure two more months of deflationary chatter from the CNBC cranksters or the Bloomberg bozos will be richly rewarded, if they are invested in silver and gold now. At least we toss geologists out of helicopters. All Ben Bernanke can throw is paper.
Editor of The Silver Valley Mining Journal