On November 12, 2016 I gave a presentation entitled The Resource Sector in the New Age of Surrealism at the Metals Investor Forum in Vancouver organized around current picks by newsletter writers Gwen Preston, Jay Taylor, Jordan Roy-Byrne, Eric Coffin, Joe Mazumdar and myself which is now available as a YouTube video. A few days later I gave a slightly modified version at the San Francisco 49 North Conference which I moderated on November 16-17. Both conferences featured 25-30 companies which each gave a presentation to qualified audiences, retail investors pulled from the keynote speakers' subscribers in the case of MIF, and Bay Area fund managers in the case of 49 North. This type of mini-conference appears to be the successor to the large conferences put on by the likes of Cambridge and Hard Assets during the past decade which drew large audiences and featured hundreds of exhibitors, only a handful of which were able to give short corporate presentations and get a speaker mention from the podium. I much prefer the smaller venues because the companies are pre-qualified and their small number enables me to identify new stories in a way that just was not happening when I had to sift through hundreds of exhibitors while fending off random buttonholers. It is also a win-win from the company perspective because it is no longer the case that the majority of exhibitors are subsidizing the handful of juniors mentioned by the speakers. To see if these smalll clusters of hand-picked juniors can outperform the rest of the junior market, I have created the Metals Investor Forum November 2016 Index.
My talk built on my November 9, 2016 Blog: Implications of the Trump Victory in which I foolishly let myself come to believe that Trump will seize the opportunity to turn around the "end-times" funk afflicting America by ditching the nonsense he spewed during the presidential campaign and getting serious about putting America back on an infrastructure renewal track. But by the end of last week it had become clear that Trump is plotting a course that will darken the future of not just America but the world in general. I am not so much concerned about Trump being in charge, because as long as he has the stage he will mobilize grassroots opposition to his worst policies. What worries me in light of the xenophobic, "white nationalist" and militaristic appointments he has already made, with further appointments pandering to religious fundamentalists such as to the Supreme Court still to come, is that he may end up with the shortest presidency in American history which Vice-President Mike Pence will be only too happy to inherit. With all the infrastructure in place to support an American theocracy, and probably a great deal of mystery as to why Trump is no longer president, a comparatively low key President Pence will be in a position to mobilize all branches of the US government to establish "national security". Once a highly visible personality like Trump has been replaced by faceless technocrats it will be difficult to rally opposition, especially if in the name of security the United States exploits the already embedded capacity for hyper-surveillance of its citizens. It really is time to dust off old novels such as George Orwell's 1984 and Arthur Koestler's Darkness at Noon. When I read them nearly 40 years ago I experienced them as interesting perspectives on the past, not glimpses into the future. In an effort to believe "it could never happen here" I recently started reading Michael Burleigh's The Third Reich: a New History written in 2000. What a decade ago I laid down as a boring history book is today electrifying to read. I have often wondered what the point was behind my decision in 1979 to abandon an electrical engineering degree track in favor of exploring the humanities, a decision that left me stuck with a degree in philosophy and a guilt-ridden, neutered culture utterly irrelevant to the swamp of venture capital into which I settled. As somebody who subscribes to the notion that everything is a random walk at the local level it is really strange to be flooded with a sense that a purpose existed all along. There is nothing like experiencing multiple meandering tracks coming together into a forceful direction against a looming challenge.