In a market like we see today, investors tend to throw caution to the wind…
Whether it’s the next SPAC offering, cryptocurrency, or even an obscure ape-themed piece of digital art, it seems like you can find a buyer for just about any asset nowadays…
But, as Dan often points out, chasing these short term gains has tons of risk. For most folks, you’re likely much better off holding real hard assets as a part of a diversified investment portfolio.
So that’s why this week, Dan invites Rick Rule back onto the show to talk about investing in real hard assets and the booming resource markets.
Rick began his career in the securities business in 1974 and has been principally involved with natural resource securities ever since. Over his long career, Rick has originated and participated in hundreds of debt and equity transactions with private, pre-public, and public companies.
Today, Rick is widely regarded as one of the most accomplished natural resource investors on the planet.
During their conversation, Dan and Rick dive deep into the weeds on the rising inflation numbers and what that means for commodity prices going forward…
Rick even shares the names of a few fascinating ways to play uranium and silver markets, that you likely have never heard of before.
It’s an episode with a ton of valuable ideas that you won’t want to miss. Rick shares some of the biggest lessons he’s learned and unlearned from his nearly 50 years of investing experience.
Senior Managing Director, Sprott Inc.; President & CEO, Sprott U.S. Holdings
Rick Rule began his career in the securities business in 1974 and has been principally involved in natural resource security investments ever since. He is a leading resource investor specializing in mining, energy, water utilities, forest products and agriculture, and has originated and participated in hundreds of debt and equity transactions with private, pre-public and public companies. Mr. Rule is also the Founder of Global Resource Investments, President and CEO of Sprott U.S. Holdings, Inc. and a member of the Sprott Inc. Board of Directors. He is a frequent speaker at industry conferences and has been interviewed for numerous radio, television, print and online media outlets concerning natural resource investment and industry topics. Mr. Rule is frequently quoted by prominent natural resource oriented newsletters and advisories.
4:56 – Dan talks about why he doesn’t like predicting tops… “More money has been lost betting on tops and bottoms than actually going through bear market turndowns…”
7:15 – There’s a story in the news recently that’s caught Dan’s eye… “Michael Burry Nukes His Portfolio, Exits All Bearish Positions!”
12:47 – “Does that mean the top is in? Of course not. You’ll never hear me say anything like that. But what have I been telling you? I’ve been trying to characterize how it feels, what it looks like, what it smells like, at a major top in a long-term bull market…”
16:26 – Dan invites long-time friend and repeat-guest, Rick Rule back onto the show. Rick began his career 47 years ago in the securities business and has developed a large following thanks to his vast expertise in many resource sectors, including agriculture, alternative energy, forestry, oil and gas, mining, and water. Over the years, Rick has participated in hundreds of debt and equity transactions with private, pre-public, and public companies.
20:25 – Rick explains the series of events that led him to make a big bet on uranium…”Either the price goes up or the lights go out, and I decided, about 4 years ago, that the price was going to go up. The lights weren’t going to go out…”
25:46 – Dan asks Rick some details about investing in Uranium… “For example, we know physical gold and silver is stored in a vault, at the Royal Canadian Mint, and that’s sort of an easy thing for an investor to understand… I assume the uranium isn’t stored at the Royal Canadian Mint??”
31:51 – Rick explains why oil shot up to $80 per barrel recently… “The lesson here is that markets work.”
35:07 – Dan gets Rick’s thoughts on the rise of inflation… “Very few commentators ever mention the fact that tax isn’t in very many cost of living indexes. Now I can almost guarantee, Dan, if I didn’t have to pay the tax, I wouldn’t bitch so much about the index… but the idea that you can have a cost of living index that ignores the fact that 35% of aggregate economic activity goes to support the state, is a really interesting oversight to me…”
38:44 – Rick shares a lesson he’s learned over his many decades of investing… “Bear markets are sales… and sales are good! It’s odd that people who want to buy assets, want the price of the assets to go up!”
43:04 – Rick explains some of the benefits of being in the markets for over 40 years… “I have absolutely no envy of the other fellow. And I have no fear of missing out…”
47:50 – Rick and Dan talk about some of the keys to succeeding with your investments… “The other thing is that you have to be much more patient than other people are. It’s ironic how at age 68, with less time left on Earth, I have more patience than when I was younger…”
49:28 – Rick reveals an extremely undervalued asset you likely haven’t ever considered… “The most undervalued commodity I know of, for North American investors, continues to be water…”
50:30 – Where does Rick see the price of gold and silver heading? “Precious metals bull markets are of very long duration. I suspect we’re 4 years into what will turn into a 10 or 11-year bull market…”
53:40 – Rick shares the names of a few silver stocks he really loves… “I think there are probably 10 or 12 stocks in the silver sector, that if I’m right, will surprise people to the same degree that the uranium stocks did…”
55:02 – Rick leaves the listeners with a helpful offer as their conversation closes… “I’ll make people an offer, I’ll personally review any listener’s natural resource portfolios, who care about my opinion. Simply go to my website RuleInvestmentMedia.com and enter your natural resource portfolio… I’ll rank them 1 to 10, and I’ll comment on individual issues where I think my comments might have value…”
1:00:28 – We’ve got some great questions on the mailbag this week… One Stansberry Alliance member calls in with a question about some of Dan’s short positions… Another listener writes in with some pretty complex questions about constructing his portfolio before Dan sets him straight with what really matters… And another listener writes in calling B.S. on those who promote gold… Listen to Dan’s fiery response to this question and many more on this week’s episode.
Announcer: Broadcasting from the Investor Hour Studios and all around the world, you're listening to the Stansberry Investor Hour. [Music plays] Tune in each Thursday on iTunes, Google Play, and everywhere you find podcasts for the latest episodes of the Stansberry Investor Hour. Sign up for the free show archive at investorhour.com. Here's your host, Dan Ferris.
Dan Ferris: Hello, and welcome to the Stansberry Investor Hour. I'm your host Dan Ferris. I'm also the editor of Extreme Value, published by Stansberry Research. Today, we'll talk with my old friend Rick Rule. Rick Rule is the single greatest natural resource investor I've ever met. He's one of the best investors, period, that I've known.
I've known him for 24 years, some period of time like that. And he's a wonderful guy. I'm sure he'll have excellent advice for you today. In the mailbag today, questions about put options, portfolio math, and a few other items. And remember you can call our listener feedback line, 800-381-2357.
Tell us what's on your mind and hear your voice on the show. For my opening rant this week. Just a couple of comments about the current market frenzy and how to think about it. We need to look at both sides of it. We'll do that and more right now on the Stansberry Investor Hour. [Music ends]
So we are definitely in a crazy market frenzy. If you look at things like call option volumes, it's just the chart is straight up into the right. It's a surge straight up.
If you look at the short-term call option volumes, again, it's just surging, right? And that's a highly speculative thing like weekly call options or something. People are just speculating on short periods of time that a stock is going to go up really fast.
So we're definitely in a speculative frenzy here in the stock market. Now, you've heard me say that a million times, right? But what I don't say often enough is there's an old adage: "It's not timing the market, it's time in the market." Equity investing is a long-term proposition. You are investing in a business and the returns – if you own the whole business, the returns would not come to you from a rising stock price that you can sell and buy a new car with, right?
The returns, if you own the whole business – and we're really close to it and knew all about it – would come to you in the form of cash flows that could be taken out of the business without affecting its ability to maintain and grow that business, right? The returns come out of what the business does, they don't come out of the rising stock price, right?
When you own a business, somebody's not knocking on your door literally every second of every day saying, "I'll offer this much, I'll offer this much, I'll offer this much," right? That's a pretty rare event, in fact, when you own a private business. And it should be the same way in the stock market, right? The stock price might go up 50 or 100% in a year, but the business didn't become 50 or 100% more valuable.
In fact, before it went up that much, it could have been worth a lot less than that already. And then it just went up because a bunch of people bought it for whatever reason because they're in a speculative frenzy and they're doing what everyone else is doing.
Like I said though, it's not timing the market, it's time in the market – holding good businesses and letting the returns come to you as they do when you are a long-term fundamental-based equity investor, right? Not a trader, not talking about predicting stock price directions. And predicting the direction of any securities price is it is fraught with peril, it is fraught with risk. It's a risky activity.
However, I believe you're much better served by figuring out what's a good business and learning to buy it at a price that promises a reasonable rate of return with a reasonable protection for the amount of money that you put in it, right, the principal, and holding it for a very long time.
Now, having said that, of course, I continue to say the same thing. Most of the time, that's all you need to know. Most of the time, it doesn't matter. And actually, I can even go so far as to say something that I saw it on Twitter recently and I was nodding my head saying, yes, that's true. More money has been lost betting on tops and bottoms. Then actually, going through bear market turndowns, right?
It serves you not at all to try to time the top or the bottom of anything – highly risky activity, and highly risky activities are known for producing bad results most of the time. It's when they don't that things get really crazy and people get sucked into them and it's too bad. A lot of that is happening now in, for example, the options market. I just threw off a couple of quick ideas for you about that.
But I continue to have to say, there are times when you do need to be extra careful, because what did I say? You want to own great businesses and you want to buy them at prices that promise good returns. And I think there's not a lot of that available today.
There's less than any time in my adult life. And I might even say any time in history based on a handful of metrics that I throw around. One of them being the price-to-sales ratio of the S&P 500. And we've talked about some other ones at various points. So bearing that in mind, it's only natural that you would be a little more cautious and that rather than investing cash and securities at prices that don't promise a good return and a good margin of safety, you would maybe hoard the cash or put it into gold or silver or something else.
But mostly, you want to build up a good cash pile because, eventually, something gets dirt cheap and attractive and then you want to use your cash. So at these times, there are things that happen anecdotally that I find it hard not to notice. I can't turn away when certain things happen. When you're in a huge market frenzy, securities prices are at all-time historic highs. And then something like this happens.
And by this, I mean, you've seen this headline about an investor called Michael Burry, B-U-R-R-Y. And this headline that's going around says Michael Burry nukes his portfolio, exits all bearish positions. And that's been repeated at a number of different financial websites. And what they're talking about is, Burry had a lot of bearish bets, and he had put options on various things and he had call options on various bearish bets.
Among the bearish bets was a major, major position in Tesla put options. And the nominal value, there was 534 million representing over 800,000 underlying shares, but through put options, right? And it was his largest position in the first quarter of this year, but he's blown that and several others out and has pared his portfolio way down. And he's got some long bets... he's bullish on Google – the name of the company is Alphabet, but I still call it Google – and Facebook, which is now called Meta.
I probably going to go and calling Alphabet and Meta, Facebook and Google forever. So he does have some bullish positions, but he's blown out so many bearish positions. And if you want to look it up, go ahead.
You can either look it up on Edgar, the SEC website, and look at the previous Form 13Fs and then the current Form 13F. And there you'll see a lot of positions that just aren't there anymore. And a lot of those were really bearish. So when I look at something like this, on Twitter, he's called Cassandra.
So, I mean, the guy's like – and he's well-known as just about the first person who got really, really bearish on the housing bubble. And he bought all these – he went to Wall Street and created all these derivative positions that did really well when it finally all blew up, it went against him for a while and it was difficult. It was a whole thing with him. And now, it was almost like the next big short was just the broad market and some really overblown tech names like Tesla, but he's blown out.
And there's a phenomenon that occurs anecdotally, of course, you can't really know it, but you ask yourself in these situations, being short for so long has been such a bad idea that it's almost like Michael Burry was the last – he's the last short.
And as they say on Wall Street, the last bear has been gored, right? Stabbed, killed. And he might not be the very last one. There may be others left, but he certainly must be one of the last. This guy, he places big bets and he generally does it with a lot of conviction and sometimes will come out in the press with some really extreme comments about various positions. And he was one of the first people who went long GameStop long before it took off as a meme stock. So I don't know when he got out of that, but I'm sure he made money on it.
And this bear has been gored. And if you read Maggie Mahar's book, Bull, which I highly recommend that you do, that's the kind of book you want to be reading right now, because it was all about the great bull market from most people dated as 1982 up to early 2000. I might date it from 1974, but I get the 1982 date, I do.
And it tells a story in there of one of the last bulls being gored. It was one of Louis Rukeyser's "elves." I forget her name. I'm so sorry if you're out there and I forgot your name. I haven't read the book in a while. But it was one of Louis Rukeyser's elves. And Rukeyser was on – it was on TV. I think it was every day for a while.
He had this program on public television and he was a perma-bull who was just endlessly bullish. And one of his elves, his handful – I mean, I think there were seven or eight of them, maybe, I don't know. They were just people who worked on Wall Street and they would give their various opinions here and there.
And one of the elves came home one day and was listening to the program, I think, on the radio or watching on TV and heard herself get fired. Shoot, that was how she found out that she was fired for being bearish in 1999 or something, which was a great time to turn and say, this has gone too far. Right? Because shortly after that was the top, and she was right to do it.
And so she got fired. She was one of the last bears. She got gored. And now here's Burry, super bearish guy. He's called Cassandra on Twitter, known for making a ton of money being short in the housing bubble. And he is now gored. Does that mean the top is in? Well, of course not. You'll never hear me say anything like that. But what have I been telling you? I've been just trying to characterize how it feels, what it looks like, what it smells like at a major top in a long-term bull market.
And this is what it feels and smells like. We talked about stocks like Peloton getting crushed and various smaller bubbles deflating like the clean energy ETF that we talked about and the ARK ETFs, which have come back somewhat, I realize. And other things that we discussed. The pot stocks sold off so hard that they've become a fantastic play in my opinion.
The people I know who are knowledgeable about them really like them and are really excited about the cheap valuations among some very good companies. So we've had these cascading kinds of deflating bubbles, a lot of stuff peaked in February of this year. And now we've got maybe the last bear getting gored. This is what it feels like, this is what it smells like. I'm not predicting a top.
And our colleague and friend, Whitney Tilson, has pointed out that most of the time shorting stocks is a terrible idea, an absolutely terrible idea, but he pointed to Michael Burry and more than one other big investor who exited their short positions with losses because they just got tired of it. And he says, "This is probably a good time to start looking for shorts."
And I think he's probably right about that too. I won't give you any because shorting is really, really hard and I've learned to do less and less of it over many years, not just in the current bull market. That's all I have to say about that. What we need to do right now is talk to somebody who knows that markets work. His name is Rick Rule. Let's talk to him right now. Let's do it. [Music starts and stops]
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For today's interview, my good friend, Rick Rule. Rick Rule is the president and CEO of Rule Investment Media. He began his career 47 years ago, for goodness sake, in 1974 in the securities business, and has been involved in it ever since. He is known for his expertise in many resource sectors, including agriculture, alternative energy, forestry, oil and gas, mining, and water.
Mr. Rule is actively engaged in private placement markets through originating and participating in hundreds of debt and equity transactions. Rick, welcome back to the show. Good to have you here.
Rick Rule: Dan, is a pleasure you're being interviewed by you, I've enjoyed the process for what, two decades now. Thank you.
Dan Ferris: That's right. Yeah. It's been fun. So Rick, I need to dive into the deep end with you, because we get a lot of questions or a few questions, and I've seen a lot of stuff on Twitter here and there about uranium. And the funny thing, I think I know what your mindset is because you've been talking about it for years, and it seems like what you've been talking about is starting to happen. And I'm curious to know where you think we are and where we're headed.
Rick Rule: Dan, my theme for 30 of the 40 years that I've been in the investment business is that markets work. I didn't know that for the first 10 years [laughs] and I made some painful mistakes. But in commodities, in particular, if you have a commodity that is necessary for the maintenance and improvement of the material living standards of humankind, and that commodity is priced on a global market below the cost of production, which is to say that the industry is in liquidation...
You are confronted with a circumstance where either the price goes up or the lifestyle of human client declines. And in my experience, in every time I've been confronted with that paradox, the situation has been resolved with the price going up. And uranium, twice now in my career, has faced that circumstance and twice in my career, has generated outsize gains.
The thesis goes like this, whether the big thinkers of the world, Angela Merkel, Joe Biden, people like that, Justin Trudeau care. Uranium is one of the most efficient, lowest cost, and ironically environmentally non-harmful materials that generates electricity known to man. Even in markets like the United States, which believes itself rich enough not to need nuclear power, 14% of total electricity demand and 20% of baseload demand comes from nuclear power. In a circumstance where electricity use almost certainly grows, not merely because of, say, Teslas, but because 1.2 billion people on the earth have no access to electricity.
And two billion people have access to either intermittent or for them unaffordable electricity. Demand for electrical power will continue to grow. And nuclear power will continue for a very long time in being an important component in the supply of electricity.
Now, for some years, the industry was making uranium total cost, including cost of capital, things like that, at about $60 a pound. And they were selling that uranium for $20 a pound, producing operating losses in the range of $40 a pound well over a hundred million times a year, that was fairly boring. But we were confronted with a circumstance where either the price went up or the lights go out.
And I decided about four years ago that the price was going to go up, the lights weren't going to go out. And began acquiring uranium juniors, uranium seniors, and by proxy, of course, uranium. Fast forward, and markets worked. The cure for low prices was, in fact, low prices. Demand for uranium increased, particularly in places like China, and around the world. At the same time that the productive capacity of the uranium industry declined by 40%.
Now we have a circumstance where the price is going up. I'm delighted to say that to Sprott, my former colleagues had a lot to do with that. We took over a physical uranium product, formerly known as Uranium Participation Corp., rebranded it the Sprott Physical Uranium Trust, and set about raising money from investors to buy physical uranium.
With the thought that the uranium price had to return at least to the incentive price for new supply or the lights would go out, we've been stunningly successful, raising now almost $1 billion and buying somewhere between 20 and 30 million pounds of uranium in the last four months. And the uranium price is now advanced from the high 20s into the mid-40s.
On its way, I think to some number like 65 or 70. A word of caution for your listeners, Dan. The junior uranium companies have responded, pardon the pun, explosively with junior uranium indexes up uniformly 300%.
And I suspect that, well, the junior uraniums and the senior uraniums over the next two or three years go higher from here. I suspect that a basket of the junior uraniums probably already discounts $65 a pound. So although I think they will go up – I don't know that they need to go up – the senior uranium companies and the physical uranium itself, I think, still deliver good value if you're an investor with a two- to three-year time frame. Sorry for that long-weighted answer but it was a big question.
Dan Ferris: Yeah. I asked the big question on purpose because I just kind of like to do that and let you run with it. I'm glad you brought up the Sprott Trust. Every now and then on Twitter, somebody will say, "Sprott's trying to corner the market." They're trying to do the hunt for others of uranium. How silly is that?
Rick Rule: That is fairly silly. The truth is that next year, I suspect a variety of factors, including humankind's realization that uranium generates baseload power with no carbon loads... means that the Japanese generating industry will restart. For those of your listeners who aren't close to the uranium space, the bear market in uranium was engendered by the Fukushima tragedy and the shutdown of Japanese nuclear industry, which was the second-largest consumer of uranium in the world.
The Japanese have now restarted eight of 41 plants, and they're permitting the restart of 18 more plants. The reason I say this in conjunction with Sprott is that if the Japanese fleet restarts, the Japanese annual consumption will be about the same as the amount of uranium that Sprott has taken off the market.
So well, Sprott was instrumental in removing the overhang in the spot market. Just the re-establishment of nuclear power in Japan will every year have an ongoing impact similar to the impact that Sprott has had in the last four months. So we are a factor, but one factor in many.
Dan Ferris: OK, fair enough.
Rick Rule: Now, from Sprott's perspective, of course, this is a wonderful circumstance. The revenues in the Sprott Physical Uranium Trust are, in effect, permanent revenues. And although the fees on the product are very low, they're very, very high margin fees.
So from a Sprott shareholder perspective, while the Sprott Physical Uranium Trust could be regarded as a catalyst rather than unimportant market determinant in the long term. The impact that the Sprott Physical Uranium Trust is having on the fee income of Sprott and the EBITDA available for distribution to Sprott shareholders is profound.
Dan Ferris: Yeah. It's a wonderful business as we've discussed many times in relation to the metals trust, right?
Rick Rule: Yeah.
Dan Ferris: So now you're doing it with uranium, it's wonderful. I'm curious though about the trust. If you don't mind getting a little nitty gritty, for example, we know that the physical gold and silver, it's stored in a vault at Royal Canadian Mint, and that's sort of an easy thing for an investor to understand. I assume that uranium is not stored at the Royal Canadian Mint. What's the physical makeup of that situation? What does it look like?
Rick Rule: Yeah, there are some differences. And I should stress now that I'm speaking as Rick Rule investor, I'm no longer an employee of Sprott, although I am a director in the largest shareholder, but I'm speaking from a position as a private investor at a retired Sprott executive. The physical uranium, as you suggest, needs to be stored fairly carefully. There are facilities that exist around the world to service both the uranium industry and the nuclear power industry.
And Sprott stores its physical uranium in three or four locations worldwide. This is important because one of the things that Sprott is able to do is participate in location swaps. As an example, if a utility has material stored in Canada but they need the material in France to run a reactor in France, we, Sprott, can sell material to them in France, take delivery in Canada, and pocket the arbitrage between those two markets, which is very useful.
The principal difference in the trust, of course, is that the precious metals trusts are in certain circumstances redeemable, which means that you can surrender your trust units and receive gold, silver, or platinum or palladium. For fairly obvious reasons, the shares in the uranium trust are not redeemable. We don't want people storing yellow cake in their basement.
Dan Ferris: We sure don't and neither do they. Think about it. So let's stick with energy because we actually talked about this last time you were on the show. Energy is an interesting thing these days because governments are creating these disincentives, shall we say, strong disincentives not to produce certain types of fuel.
And as you pointed out in the United States, uranium is still sort of in that category, isn't it? But fossil fuels certainly are. And oddly enough, and we've had other guests on the show talking about this, that bodes well for oil and gas investors and uranium for that matter, does it not?
Rick Rule: Yeah. The headline of this interview, Dan, should be "markets work." People react to narrative, but people make money based on arithmetic. And markets, in fact, work. When the big thinkers, the World Economic Forum and Angela Merkel and that renowned physicist, Greta Thunberg or whatever her name is, inveighed against energy. What they were sort of hectoring us about was the lifestyle of humankind.
And while many people are sympathetic with the narrative, most people I know when they turn the key to the right, want the car to start, when they walk into a room and hit the toggle switch, they want the lights to go on. The consequence of that is the irrespective of the preferences of the big thinkers. There will be demand for all forms of energy, including fossil fuels for a substantial period of time.
We had the good fortune in our last interview to have it during a time when the oil price approached zero. And the idea that an oil price at zero is sustainable was laughable, but it happened at any rate. The numbers around oil are not dissimilar to the numbers around uranium. The international energy agency suggests that the fully-loaded cost to produce a barrel of oil, not, by the way, a barrel of oil equivalent, which is natural gas, but rather a barrel of oil is about $60 a barrel.
I'm not talking about lifting costs, I'm talking about amortized G&A, amortized exploration expenditures, and cost of capital. Now, when the oil industry was making the stuff for 60 bucks a pound and selling it for $20 or $30 a pound, they were again losing $30 a barrel, pardon me, but they were doing it at a COVID constraint, 80 million barrels a day, which is to say that the industry was losing substantially in excess of $1 billion a day.
The consequence of that and the consequence of the fact that capital, particularly debt capital, became much less available, met that the industry worldwide reduced their sustaining capital investments, and halted their new project investments. The oil and gas business is a very capital-intensive business.
And if you don't make sustaining capital investments, you reduce your ability to produce. So you reduce your ability to produce very, very, very quickly. Particularly in the United States where new production was extremely capital intensive, these sort of shale wells have very high ratios of capital to production, fairly low operating costs but very high capital ratios.
And the combination of rapidly declining oil and gas prices and a rapidly increasing cost of capital with very, very, very high depletion rates meant that U.S. production, among others, plummeted. The consequence of low prices was sustaining capital reduction, which was rapidly, rapidly, rapidly declining supplies in an economy that began to recover. And so the oil price advanced from $20 a barrel to some number over $80 a barrel.
The lesson here, Dan, is simply that markets work. And you'll note to that markets have worked extremely well, much to the dismay of the big thinkers. In the coal business, nobody wanted to touch coal. And those people who have been willing to touch coal have been rewarded with 18-month doubles and triples. The takeaway lesson is irrespective of the narrative of the big thinkers, markets work.
Dan Ferris: Rick, it's almost like those big thinkers have absolutely no idea what they are talking about because they pretend they do this thing where they say – and we could even take the example of marijuana and other drugs. They say this is bad. This is bad for society at large or something. And therefore, we don't want it to happen, so we're going to make it illegal. And they have no – the idea that it's a trade-off and that you're just forcing the market underground.
And in the case of these energy plays, that you're going to make the price go up at some point. It's nowhere. And it never seems to truly come back to haunt them. They're on to the next grand top-down solution to make our lives a utopia that never seems to work. The markets don't seem to work for politicians. I mean, I guess maybe that's what I'm getting at. It's incredible that they can still do this stuff.
Rick Rule: And I think that markets don't work for large segments of society who believe that they can take a vacation from physics and arithmetic. But those elements of society are always in for rude awakenings. Markets are messy and the outcomes that markets give are inconvenient, particularly inconvenient for people who forgot to save or didn't have the ability to save.
I'm not trying to say that the near-term outcomes that markets provide are what the big thinkers would describe as equitable or even that they are optimal. I'm just saying that they are and ignoring the fact that they are is harmful both to humankind and to the fortunes of individual investors. You describe generally the impact of making various forms of substances illegal. I won't go into that in detail. I haven't done detailed due diligence on marijuana for over four decades.
But I can say that broadly held misconceptions on behalf of the public exist today. I participate in online discussion groups around the topic of inflation, as an example, inflation in the function of cost of living. And very, very, very few commentators ever mentioned the fact that tax isn't in very many cost of living indexes.
Now, I can almost guarantee Dan, that if I didn't have to pay the tax, I wouldn't bitch so much about the index. But the idea that you could have a cost-of-living index that ignores the fact that sort of 35% of aggregate economic activity goes to support the state is a really interesting oversight to me.
People talk about the increase in the price of rubber in tires and they completely ignore the impact of tax in their cost of living. It's an odd circumstance that, again, goes to the fact that I'm afraid many, many, many people, not just the big thinkers, but many people who support the big thinkers are ignorant about economics and physics and arithmetic.
Dan Ferris: All right. So the state of things today is there seems to be – everything is a trade-off, right? Everything costs something. And so it seems like politically, at least, if not in reality, you pay little for ignoring one side or other of the trade-off depending on what you're talking about.
The idea that there is a trade-off and that we generally in our society at large, are having some kind of a reasonable discussion that acknowledges both sides, it just doesn't ever seem to be that way where we're looking at the externalities and the negatives of fossil fuels only and not the benefits that we get for what we pay. And we seem to be looking at the benefits only of what we get for our taxes. And we don't look at what it costs us.
Rick Rule: And of course, the very good news about that is that for those of your listeners who pay attention to things like fundamentals and value and pay attention to markets, that some very broad opportunities present themselves from time to time. It's always interested me Dan, and we've talked about this in the past, that people who are investors don't like the idea of declines in securities prices.
If you have a liquidity squeeze and let's say that we – I'm not saying that we're going to, but let's say we had a fairly severe one on the order of say, 2008 or 1987. And prices declined in the broad equities markets by 50%. The wealth wouldn't have gone away. The technology wouldn't have disappeared. The bricks and mortars wouldn't have melted. The factories wouldn't have ceased to produce. What would happen is that the price of all those assets would have declined by half, which is to say they would've got on sale.
Doug Casey points out that production doesn't cease. The ownership of the means of production returns to the wise, the people who are willing to take advantage of the financial dislocation. I've learned myself at age 68, that for me, given that I hope to be on earth for a substantial period of time longer, and for whatever reason, I'm not really sure why, I'd like to become more wealthy, that bear markets are sales and sales are good.
It's odd that people who want to buy assets want the price of the assets that they're about to buy to go up to get some sort of validation by price. They ought to be buying these assets the same way that they buy canned tuna fish or coats when they're on sale.
Dan Ferris: Right. And in the same way, Rick, an asset that produces cash over time, you want to pay less for it, don't you? And it's the same though as the can of tuna fish or the clothing or whatever it is because you get the utility, you get the same utility and that's your return. And you would want – For example, I was looking recently – I've been thinking about this a bit because I looked recently at a chart of P/E ratio for whatever it may be worth, I realize there's some noise in it, of the S&P 500 going back to, I believe it was 1954. And something really struck me on that chart.
During the '70s was the only sustained period of several years when it was consistently below 15 times earnings. And of course, to buy stocks then, it was difficult during those years because they were consistently cheaper than in just about any other decade, absolutely than in any other decade just before or since certainly. But that's what you want.
And even if the price stays low, the cash is still produced. The return is still present, and you have made a wonderful coup if you have paid less for it. I sound like I'm really struggling with this. And I am because I'm the value guy in financial newsletter publishing firm. And that's a tough place to be and it's been really tough for the last 10 years. But paying less for something that doesn't change just because the price changes, it's always better, is it not?
Rick Rule: It is always better. And I would suggest to your listeners, if Stansberry still publishes this that a comparison of the results that you've generated both in terms of individual stocks, but also in terms of your overall portfolio, relative to other publications and relative then to other investment strategies, has been very good.
And that belies the fact that you have, on behalf of your readers, achieved the results that you've had while accepting substantially less risk than some of your competitors. I'm not belittling other Stansberry products. I'm not belittling investments in technology. As an example, people for one reason or another seem to neglect value stocks because they described them as boring. At age 68, Dan, I've come to realize that boredom is the antidote to terror. And I prefer, personally, boredom to terror.
Dan Ferris: Bring on the boredom. Bring it on for God's sake. Could we please have some more boredom? It's a very good point. And right now though, I mean, we are in a time of the exact opposite, the financial markets are the scene of frenzied excitement. I mean, people buying short term – I saw another chart this morning that said that for some time now, retail investors have been in charge of the options market and they overwhelmingly favor very short-term options. They have these weeklies. Well, this won't end well, I don't believe.
Rick Rule: Well, I'm not smart enough to tell you if it will or it won't. One of the benefits that has come to me as a consequence of investing for 45 years is I have absolutely no envy of the other fellow and I have no fear of missing out. As long as I can invest my own money at risks which are acceptable to me for internal rates of return which are acceptable to me – if somebody else outperforms me, I'm grateful to them.
It means that they'll have the wealth to buy products from companies that benefit me. In terms of taking inordinate risk because of fear of missing out, which is to say, investing in a technology or even a paradigm or a narrative that I don't understand, I have no interest in doing that. I've been reliably informed that in the crypto world or at least the DeFi world, that there are users of capital, capital pools, market-makers, traders, which are paying 70% annualized yields on debt to support their trading and market-making activities.
The idea that I would loan somebody money when I didn't understand why collateral, I didn't understand their business, I hadn't seen their balance sheet, and they were making money in instruments that as far as I could tell, had no tangible value, means that I am completely unattracted to the 70% yield because I'm afraid of a total loss of principle.
If I'm wrong, and there is a younger investor who understands the technology and those markets better than I, and he or she generates a 70% compound internal rate of return, I'm delighted for them.
Dan Ferris: Absolutely. I wish no one ill, believe me, I don't. But what I really do is I worry about our many listeners and many Stansberry readers.
Rick Rule: Of course.
Dan Ferris: The thing I worry the most about, I'm glad you brought this up because the thing that I worry the most about is that moment, should we get a bear market or a big crash of some kind.
That moment that marks the bottom of it... which, as you know, is a moment of capitulation when many people memorialize their losses and kiss God-knows-what percent of their net worth goodbye for the emotional relief it gives them and for no other reason. So I'm trying to help people avoid that. That's really my main concern.
Rick Rule: I think that's great. And I think it's important for both you and your listeners to know that you're never going to get it absolutely right. I think Bernard Baruch pointed out that the only guy who absolutely bought at the bottom and sold at the top was a liar. It didn't happen. But there's so much money in the swings that if you get it sort of right, you're OK. An example of myself, and I should know better than this... When the oil price fell apart and when Exxon got kicked out of the Dow 30 and had to be sold by all the indexes, those were both non-permanent events. I knew it. And inexplicably, Dan, I waited for Exxon to get cheaper. In other words, I paid attention to the predicted narrative value rather than the absolute value.
The consequence of that for my genius is that I cost myself sort of a third of the share price, meaning that the share price had recovered by about 30% before I sort of woke up out of the narrative ether that caused me, or would have caused me to use 40 years of training to buy one of the best asset allocators in the world and one of the best businesses in the world to affect at that point in time, 13% yield. What was I thinking? Sometimes stuff is cheap enough, you just have to pull the trigger.
Dan Ferris: Yes, it is. It's a very much a game of good enough, cheap enough, return enough, safety enough, isn't it?
Rick Rule: To me?
Dan Ferris: Yep. Well, my point is not just to you, your point about the brew quote and the precision of tops and bottoms, I feel that that strongly implies that you had better, that's my point, really. You had better approach it as a game of "cheap enough, return enough, safety enough," because otherwise you're a liar and you're not making anything. Right?
Rick Rule: And I think the other thing is that you have to be much more patient than most people are. It's ironic that at age 68, with less time left on Earth, I have more patients than I had when I was younger and there was more time. Compounding takes time. There was a, I think, unpublished study and I believe it was by Fidelity.
One of the very, very, very large mutual fund groups. Where they looked at various client accounts and tried to look at performance by demographic subsets. And it turned out that over 10 years, the subgroup that had the best performance was deceased. People who were dead and couldn't trade outperformed every other broad demographic type that they had, which suggests that in addition to prudence, one of the character traits that investors must exhibit is patience. And it makes perfect sense. Compounding works over time.
Dan Ferris: Darn right. Well, Rick, I feel that we have – as you always do, you've fairly well taught our listeners a little bit better so far today, how to fish. It's coming, right? I wonder if there's a fish that you have to offer.
Rick Rule: Right as we speak, I have to say that there is no opportunity that is ringing the bell the same way that energy rang the bell the last time we talked. The most undervalued commodity that I know of for North American investors continues to be water. Unfortunately, pardon the pun, water from an investment point of view is highly illiquid.
There aren't vehicles available to the broad investing public to take care of that. So what I can say to investors is that they need to prepare themselves for sub-sector bear markets. I believe that the entire commodity space goes higher. I believe that precious metals offer both in terms of the metals themselves, but more particularly the equities, good but not great opportunities.
If I was going to leave your listeners with something, is that the more speculative among them should be looking at the silver equities right now. My experience has been that precious metals bull markets are of very long duration.
And I suspect that we're four years into what will be a 10 -or 11-year bull market. The hiatus that we're in right now, even the decline in precious metals markets is a normal and natural part of a bull market and relates to the earlier part of our conversation because obviously, goods are on sale.
In a circumstance where I believe that the precious metals prices will go higher, the precious metals equities on an enterprise value to net asset value are the cheapest that they have been in my life relative to the commodity price. The subset of those is silver equities.
And in my experience in the second half of precious metals bull markets, silver has outperformed gold and the best-performing asset class has been silver equities because the combined market capitalization of the silver sector is so small that when the generalist investor buys in to the silver narrative, there isn't enough room in the silver silo to accommodate all the money.
So if I was going to leave your listeners with a tip, it would be, if you can stomach volatility and you have a two- to three-year time frame in mind, the most unloved sector from my point of view, the greatest timeliness and the greatest upside would be the silver equities.
And I don't mean the little, tiny Penny Dreadfuls who merely have silver as part of the name on a shares certificate. I'm talking about the silver producers or the silver developers that have large silver resources to take advantage of the upside, which I think is inevitable in precious metals prices.
Dan Ferris: Care to share a name or two?
Rick Rule: I think that Pan American Silver has certainly been sold off much more substantially than it should have been sold off. I'm attracted, too, to a London listing called Hochschild, which everybody hates. And there is some real risk in Hochschild with regards to internal politics in Peru, which appear to be deteriorating.
One of the things that appeals to me about Hochschild is, first of all, the fact that people hate it, which I always like, but also I think that they have a new project coming on stream which will give them a substantial secondary source of income from what the market famously now calls "battery metals and rare earths," which will provide both cash and perhaps a refreshed narrative in the name.
But I don't think that you need to be so constrained. I think there are probably 10 or 12 stocks in the silver sector that if I'm right, will surprise people to the upside to the same quantum that the uranium stocks has surprised people to the upside.
Dan Ferris: I see. So it sounds like I could go for a basket of the higher-quality names in the mid-capish region in silver equities.
Rick Rule: And I suspect you would be very surprised over the next three years. You might be negatively surprised over the next six months, nobody can tell what will happen there. You'll recall that the first time you and I talked about uranium was four years ago. And somebody had to wait a couple of years before they were awarded. But the reward that they enjoyed certainly compensated them by any measure for the time value of money that they suffered.
Dan Ferris: Absolutely, it did, especially if they were in those smaller names, man. It's been pretty good. So, Rick, we have been talking for a little while and I'm really glad that we could talk to you again. And it's time for the final question, which you've answered more than once on the program. But just as a reminder to everyone, the final question is the same for every guest no matter what the topic. And it is, if you could leave our listeners with a single thought today, what would it be?
Rick Rule: Well, I'll give you a bonus. I'm going to leave you with two. The most important lesson is that markets work. The cure for low prices is low prices. The cure for high prices is high prices. Study works, too, and so I'm going to make people an offer. I personally will review any of your listeners’ natural resource portfolios who care about my opinion.
Simply go to our website, ruleinvestmentmedia.com, and enter your natural resource portfolio, please. No pot stocks, please, no crypto, please, no tech stocks... just natural resource stocks. I'll rank them one to 10. One being best, 10 being worst. And I'll comment on individual issues where I think my comments might have value.
As a bonus, if you mentioned charts in the question line, I will include a copy of the Barron's gold mining index, which is the longest running and most inclusive precious metals equity index on the planet. To defend my about the fact that we are in a precious metals bull market and a precious metals bull market with legs, I will include, too, the Goldman Sachs commodities chart, which is 100-year chart which talks about the relative cheapness or expense of various commodities classes against other classes of financial assets going back 100 years.
Once again, ruleinvestmentmedia.com. Enter your natural resource stocks, I'll rank them, no obligation. If you are interested in the charts, mentioned charts and I'll send them to you.
Dan Ferris: Awesome. Rick, what is the response? You've done this before. Do you get a lot of people mailing your portfolios?
Rick Rule: I get a lot of people, but what's – well, I do a lot of people. The natural resource sector is a sort of a [laughs] resource ghetto. But what I get is a lot of smart, nice, odd people. And I enjoy communicating with the smart, nice, odd people. I also get, because I've done this sort of 30,000 times now over the last three years, I get very interesting data to analyze, to understand what people get right and what people get wrong in their natural resource portfolio.
So looking at the accumulated data, which is to say 30,000 retail portfolios over three years, I learn an awful lot about investor response to various trends, and that's very useful to me.
Dan Ferris: So the exercise itself adds value for the people who participate in it.
Rick Rule: And a substantial value to me as it should. I work very hard at this?
Dan Ferris: Yeah. All right. Well, Rick, it is always a pleasure to speak with you, whether it's an interview or just bumping into you at a conference or someplace else, and today is no exception, great to hear your voice and your ideas. And we should have you on more often. Now that we are in a bona fide, as you say, precious metals bull market with legs, I think we need to check in with Rick Rule more often.
Rick Rule: Well, Dan, I'm retired now. I'm a gentleman of leisure, so I would look forward to that.
Dan Ferris: All right. Well, we'll see if we can't set something like that up.
Rick Rule: Great.
Dan Ferris: Yeah. Thanks again, Rick.
Rick Rule: Thank you, sir.
Dan Ferris: We'll talk to you soon.
Rick Rule: Thank you.
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In the mailbag each week, you and I have an honest conversation about investing or whatever is on your mind. Just send your questions, comments, and politely worded criticisms, please, to [email protected] I read as many e-mails as time allows and I respond to as many as possible.
You can also call our listener feedback line, 800--381-2357. Tell us what's on your mind and hear your voice on the show. First up this week Harold L. And Harold L. says, "Dan, I'm a 10-plus-year Alliance member." Thank you, Harold L. He continues, "And I have enjoyed your podcast for years. You have mentioned a number of times your put option positions and wonder what your strategy is.
I live off of my dividends for my stocks and hold a portfolio of companies with strong rising dividends and would like to learn how to protect my capital. And if the market collapses per your outlook. I don't mind spending one to two% of my value for downside protection." Harold L.
Well, you answered your own question there, Harold. And there's no great strategy. I just go out of the money 20 or 30 or 40% or so. Between 20 and 50 and out three, six, nine, 12 months or so and put a small amount that I'm completely willing to kiss goodbye. And that's it. It's no great complicated strategy. It's not something that I don't trade it actively, I just put it on and leave it there, don't care. Most days I don't even think about its existence.
Next comes B.A. Sorry, B.A., I couldn't pronounce your name. And if you want to call into our listener feedback line and pronounce it for me, I'd be happy to do so. B.A. B.A. says, "An investor decides to hold a portfolio with 60% invested in real estate and 40% invested in bank stocks.
The expected return is 30.5% for the real estate and 55% for the bank stocks. The standard deviation is 10.5% for the real estate and 23.6% for the bank stocks. The covariance between the two investments is 0.004. Calculate portfolio variance and portfolio standard deviation, BA." BA, what do you think this is going to get you?
Do you think this is actually going to represent anything that will happen in the future? Anything at all. Anything remotely close to the pinpoint accuracy of these calculations. Because I don't. In fact, I guarantee it. I'll bet you real money against it every single time.
You will not make 30.5% on the real estate. You will not make 55% on the bank stocks. The standard deviation will not be 10.5%. That's looking backward. I'm talking about forward, realized, real, real estate and 23.6%, that won't happen, the covariance won't happen. It won't happen. This is a fantasy. This is not how investing works. Sorry. That's just the way I see it.
And next this week comes Julia W. And Julia says, "I was so excited when I saw that you were interviewing Jaime Rogozinski from WallStreetBets, and it made me so happy to hear you take the time to get into what's going on over there. It always hurts my feelings a bit to hear you totally write off the clever meme crazes as pure stupidity.
So it felt good to hear you appreciate the snarky madness of it all. Thank you for being open-minded and having that be a part of your show. That being said, also thanks for being a grounding voice of wisdom for me amidst the various hysterias. I may only live once, but your advice helps me sleep better at night as I do. I was really relieved to hear you receive and affirm the intelligence, thoughtfulness, and humor that exists among what appeared to be pure insanity. It helped me feel an even deeper trust and appreciation for your take, Julia W."
Julia, thank you so much. I really appreciate the kind words. And the meme crazes, I guess I have written them off as pure stupidity, but look, I always a bit the way things are. AMC Entertainment and GameStop, they're still way the heck up from where they were even though they've crashed quite substantially from their crazy meme, -frenzy highs, those businesses are still way up there.
And they used their credit also, they used this craziness to raise money, which changed to some degree, I don't think to a very meaningful degree, but change the fundamentals of their businesses and improve them, I would say ever, so slightly some would say a whole lot, but yeah, it's true.
If I've written it off as 100% crazy, what I think is 100% crazy is expecting a lot of good things to happen in those businesses going forward. They were dying businesses when they were soaring straight up 500,000% or whatever they did. I think it was like five or 600%, something like that. Anyway, Julia, thank you.
Next is L.L. Almost didn't include this because I said "politely worded criticisms." And L.L. says, "My B.S. detector is functioning well for Stansberry Investor Hour." And he wrote an e-mail that was way too long. I'm never going to read all those long e-mails. But one sentence did jump out at me as I scanned it. He said, "I've never heard any promoter of the yellow metal discuss the huge overhang of golden bank and private faults all over the world isolated from the reality of the marketplace, L.L."
Well, LL, my complete idiot detector is working better than your BS detector. Because I want you to tell me there is no overhang. Gold is a tiny market. We get one little surge of capital into that market and the price will explode straight up. And sure, can the price fall 50% 80%? Well sure, of course it can. Of course it can. But most of your comments were a little silly. Yeah, it's been around for 5,000 years and you dismissed that.
You dismiss the fact that's been around for 5,000 years. So that's on you. If you're not holding gold, whatever's going to happen to those who aren't holding gold is whatever's going to happen to them. But the gold market is tiny. At this point, what is it? Ten or 11 trillion? I don't even know. Total. And all the gold in the world, all the gold that's ever been mined fits in a cube under the Eiffel Tower. It's tiny, it's a tiny market. It's like crypto. Crypto is a few trillion. Crypto's smaller than gold.
So of course, there's some volatility, but gold has done its job extraordinarily well, right? You'll use all the same arguments to say something else is better than as you used to say gold is bad. It doesn't make any sense.
Anyway, Ludwig H. is next. He wrote in a bunch of times this week, Ludwig thank you so much. I should just put all your questions in, but I feel like it would be unfair to other listeners. Ludwig said, "Are you expecting a crisis in the real estate market?
Well, prices have gone up dramatically and home-buying conditions have deteriorated dramatically. A lot of people are getting priced out. But what's the cure for high prices? Well, high prices is the cure for high prices. And I saw just a headline this morning that said, lots of commercial real estate is being converted into residential real estate. And I think that's what's going to happen. All those office buildings that have emptied out because people are working from home and many of them permanently, they're going to convert to residential real estate.
And that makes all the sense in the world to me. I don't know anything about this, but I wonder how hard it would be to do that. It doesn't seem like it would be very difficult. But who knows, it would probably be a substantial expense. So there's going to be a lot of investment that has to be made in that.
But with housing demand up so much and prices up so much, the incentive is there to do it at this time. So will there be a crisis? I don't know, it is not 2007 right now, I can tell you that, or 2006, the peak of the housing bubble. It's not that. The pricing is in nominal terms is above that far above that level according to the Case-Shiller indexes.
And any random Zillow search, right? It's like no secret that the pricing has soared and a lot of people have been priced out of the lower end. So yeah, a crisis, not like it was in 2007, but will there be some pricing adjustment eventually? I think so. I'd expect it. I mean, it seems like that would be logical. But it's a good question to ask.
Next comes, Peter W. Lastly this week, Peter W. Says, "Hello, Dan, I thought you might find this interesting, see below. It is somewhat at odds with the statements you have made on your podcast, yours truly Peter W." And this is the sole thing about this guy.
The same scientist or another working for some environmental group is saying that – one quote from what Peter W sent me was, "Surprisingly today's climate models are so good that when they disagree with observational data, it is often the data that is wrong." Peter, if your bullshit detector isn't making a glaring loud sound right now and going off like crazy, then you might want to get it serviced, because there are people who are saying the exact opposite and giving lots of evidence for it.
And I've seen one particular graph of the progress and the accuracy of climate models. And there are over 130 of them I know at one point. And maybe two of them did not run too hot. In other words, they all predicted much more warming than we got. And that's that doesn't look like they're so good to me.
And the fact that somebody won a Nobel Prize for it doesn't mean anything, right? They gave a Nobel Prize to Barack Obama for God's sake. Anybody gives a Nobel Prize to a politician, you're not credible right away. Unless they reduced the burden of government on people and stopped targeting people and stop sending jackbooted thugs to kick down their doors and murder them because they wanted to sell cocaine to somebody who wanted to buy it.
Anyway, that's just my view. These are political issues. I don't really care what anybody thinks including you or anybody else. It's just what I think. But I'm glad you asked the question.
Anyway, I probably won't be doing a lot more sort of thing going forward. I've said this in the past and then I sort of let it creep back into my thoughts here on the podcast, but I don't know if it's been worth it, really, to make comments about these political things. I think we should stick to finance. It's what we do best. Well, that's another mailbag and that's another episode of the Stansberry Investor Hour.
I hope you enjoyed it as much as I did. We provide a transcript for every episode. Just go to investorhour.com, click on the episode you want, scroll all the way down, and click on the word "transcript" and enjoy. [Music Starts] If you liked this episode and know anybody who might enjoy listening to the show, tell them to check it out on their podcast app or at investorhour.com. And subscribe to the show.
Subscribe to it on iTunes, Google Play, or wherever you listen to podcasts. And while you're there, help us grow with a rate and a review. Follow us on Facebook and Instagram. Our handle is @investorhour, on Twitter, our handle is @investor_hour. Have a guest you want me to interview? Drop me a note at [email protected] or call the listener feedback line, 800-381-2357. Tell us what's on your mind and hear your voice on the show. Till next week, I'm Dan Ferris. Thanks for listening.
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