Graphic Economy.
The Prescription.


  • September 24, 2015 at 10:05 pm

    Huh. So, the Embassy at the Double D has a trade agreement with Castro?

    I wouldn’ta thunk it.

    • September 25, 2015 at 11:04 am

      Diplomatic pouch from Argentina, or Habana by way of any of a number of nations including Mexico. No problem.

      Cayman Islands also is a good source by pouch.

  • September 24, 2015 at 10:54 pm

    I do like Aaron’s ballsy anti-PC approach, a little like a new-gen Trump.

    But as to his spotlight on silver today, there’s a fine line between analyzing and promoting…last time somebody tried to game it, it was a disaster for them and a lot of innocent followers; I was in the middle of it.

    Of course I think hard money will be critical as the house of cards collapses, I’ve probably bought and sold more of it than AC has ever seen, and when people ask me should they own it I say hell yes. But like ammo, there’s no shortage unless that perception takes hold and the exchange rate goes wonky and that can ruin you real quick.

    I’m a broker not a speculator of the stuff so price is irrelevant to me, I make a few percent coming and going whether its up or down. But when I’m asked which way its going I say 50% either way because while I know the fundamentals are there, the minute I give advice it becomes a conflict because my self-interest gets involved. That’s the slippery slope I try to avoid, and so should Mr. Clarey.

    • September 25, 2015 at 7:06 am

      Trying to corner the market in anything never works, and that’s what every would be BTO (Big Time Operator- E.E. “Doc” Smith terminology) tries in every “bubble”, which is one way bubbles come about. (See “Tulipomania”, “South Seas Bubble”- it isn’t a recent phenomenon by any manner of means.)

      But present value is no guarantee of future value. See anything Clive Cussler ever wrote about diamonds; they’re only considered valuable due to two words; de Beers. Corundums (rubies, sapphires, etc.) are a lot rarer in the Earth’s crust, but de Beers has one of the best PR firms in the world. Even though their masterstroke, that famous slogan, was actually created inadvertently by Ian Fleming in 1954. (Remember “Diamonds Are Forever”?)

      Subtract de Beers from the equation, and crystalline carbon is nothing but cutting-tool bits and costume jewelry.

      John Ringo (Last Centurion) and L. Neil Smith (Probability Broach) nailed it when they pointed out that the most valuable commodity will always be talent- i.e., skill at doing something nobody else can. This will be doubly so in a TEOTWAWKI situation.

      (You’re living in a remote subsistence-level settlement as in M. Night Shymalan’s “The Village”. Your child develops appendicitis. How much would you pay for a surgeon who knows how to take out a hot appendix without killing the patient with sepsis?)

      As a means of trade, gold, silver, etc. work very well, especially because it’s very easy to tell if they’ve been debased by alloying. Assuming that you know what schist is, how and where to find it, and how to use it to assess purity. Google “touchstone”, or just read Chapter 2 of Connections by James Burke, which BTW is one of the fifty or so books that ought to be in any SHTF library to be packed to your retreat in a footlocker in the back of your vehicle. (In fact, if you want a “ten best” list, it’s about No. 2.)

      But fundamentally, their value is like that of paper money; anything two traders agree it is. Rather like the apocryphal story of early traders in North America making the locals pay for a Leman trade musket by stacking beaver pelts up to a height equal to its overall length, buttplate to muzzle. (Some of my ancestors were Shawnee, and they’d laugh their a$$es off at any voyageur’ who tried that stunt- just before they tied him to a stake, wrapped in soaking-wet, fresh deerhide, under a hot sun.)

      As a medium of exchange for other goods and services, anything works as long as everyone agrees on the medium. But that’s ultimately all it is, a construct.

      Inflation is the same way. Jeff Cooper summed it up best in 1974;

      “A hundred years ago, a $20 U.S. gold piece would buy a Colt Peacemaker revolver. Today, an 1874 dated $20 U.S. gold ‘double eagle’ will still buy a Colt Peacemaker- but a $20 U.S. Treasury note won’t.”

      Things that are necessary (like weapons) have value because of usefulness. Talents have value the same way. Mediums of exchange have values because everyone agrees on what they’re worth.

      Choose your “hedge fund” wisely.

      PS- PB, what you thought (or hoped) was a literary allusion yesterday wasn’t. Just a statement of personal fact. (NB- fact, not “choice”.)



      • September 25, 2015 at 8:37 am

        Interesting read…thanks…

      • September 25, 2015 at 10:06 am
        B Woodman

        Add the Hunt brothers attempting to corner the silver market to your list of bubbles. Remember when silver was approximately $50/ounce?

      • September 25, 2015 at 3:11 pm

        Never happened, BW…see the link in my comment below.

      • September 25, 2015 at 11:15 am

        Uh, the colt peacemaker/1874 double eagle analogy is potentially misleading (even though true), because both items tend to have collector value. (And it’s messy…the 1874 double eagle could run anywhere from $2,000 to $20,000 depending on its condition. I don’t know the book on Peacemakers.)

        The better comparison, one that steers away from collector value and focuses on commodity value, is that a twenty dollar gold piece (any common date in a so-so condition has little collector value over the value of the gold, about 1200 bucks) bought a very nice suit back then and will still do so today.

        In point of fact, it probably would buy a much better suit today than it did back then, but our technology for producing suits has gotten better, so that would be expected in a normal economy, rather than one where the government inflates the currency, i.e., steals from everyone with savings.

      • September 25, 2015 at 11:16 am

        Certainly an ounce of gold will buy some damned nice guns, too.

      • September 25, 2015 at 6:06 pm

        That was Cooper’s 1974 point. The original gold double eagle was 1 troy ounce of gold .999 fine. In 1874, the value of 1 troy ounce was about $20, and so was the MSRP of the Colt M1873 revolver, FOB Hartford CT. (They did a lot of railway express business back then; William Barclay “Bat” Masterson bought his various Peacemakers direct from the factory, ordered by mail with an enclosed check, and had them delivered wherever he was at the time.)

        In 1974, the average price of that same gold coin on the market averaged about $200. Which was what Colt was charging for the .45 Peacemaker.

        (I almost bought one, in .357. Ended up with a MK IV Series 70 .45 1911A1 instead as a duty weapon.)

        Even today, the average price of a Colt or a clone from any of the makers (~$1500) is pretty close to a typical price for that same coin in a coin shop unless you’re dealing with some rare variation.

        The spot market per oz. price of gold isn’t too far off, either.

        Cooper’s point- and mine- is that in a barter economy, “value for value” is going to be based on utility. People will be less concerned with the fancywork on a Colt or “clone gun” than whether or not it is well-made, in good condition, and shoots.

        Gold became a monetary metal for the same reason silver did; it’s very easy to tell if it’s pure or has been adulterated. (See above.) Plus it has utility (there’s that word again) in jewelry making, being easily workable and pretty durable at the same time.

        The other utility of gold and silver is in electrical work and even stranger things. During the WW2 Manhattan Project, the “catchpans” used in the processing of U238 into weapon-grade U235 (also used as Pu239 feedstock) were 24K gold, because it’s one of the few metals U235 won’t form an amalgam with when cooling from the gaseous-diffusion process.

        And most of the electrical wiring at Oak Ridge, Hanford, etc., was silver. They got about 2000 tons of it from the Federal Reserve. Why? First of all, it has very low resistance (rated in Ohms)- lower than electrolytically-pure copper.

        The only way to get lower resistance is to use cryogenic ceramic superconductors, and those were in a very primitive state at the time because the principle had only been discovered in 1942- at Oak Ridge. (Serendipity, you might say.)

        The other reason was there just wasn’t 2000 tons of copper available for wiring. Most of what was available was already slated for everything from electrical double-strand wiring in B-17s- to alloying into brass for .30-06 cartridge cases. “Ersatz” wasn’t just a German concept; we had shortages during the war, too, you know.

        In the end, usefulness=value. That’s as true now as it was in ancient Greece.

        A barter economy makes it very clear to all parties.




      • September 25, 2015 at 9:35 pm

        @eon 6:06

        Interesting and informative as always from you, sir.

        Once correction: Most US gold and silver coins including that 1874 $20, are .900 or 21.6 kt fine not .999 or 24 kt, alloyed .100 to enhance hardness and wearability. Total weight of the double eagle was increased to somewhat above 1.0 troy ounce (33.4 gm. compared to 31.1 gm. in a troy ounce, presumably to compensate for the alloying but for whatever reason still containing a fraction under one ozt of pure gold). Similar alloying was done on silver coins but weights were far under an ounce. This alloying continues today in the gold and silver bullion coins but with enough alloying material so that both the silver and gold contemporary eagles contain a full troy ounce of precious metal. More recently and probably strictly a marketing reaction to the Canadian .999 and .9999 gold maple leaf bullion coins, the American Buffalo is produced in .9999 pure.

        An aside to the fungibility of hard money is that the most popular SHTF coinage is the mercury dime, not because they contain any more silver or rarity (even though they date 1914 through WWII they are very common in circulated condition and all US silver coinage contains 25 grams per dollar of face value in 90% silver), but because their smaller denomination makes them more easily spendable (common parallel to the Colonel’s double eagle = Colt Peacemaker) is that a dime bought a loaf of bread in 1964 (last year of silver mintage) and roughly buys a loaf today. Also in the case of the merc it is universally and easily identified as silver without the need for close examination, and counterfeiting is near nonexistent.

      • September 25, 2015 at 3:09 pm

        The tag line on my long-dormant blog is “price. cost. value. big difference.”

        That’s a succinct but all-inclusive definition of supply/demand. Historical references (failing to learn dooms to repetition) and literary predictions of bubbles and manipulations (stopped clock is right twice a day) have educational value but are not direct indicators of current activity, and both are often based on false assumptions, to wit:

        The Hunt brothers cornering of the silver market never actually happened…they were major conservative (Reagan) supporters in a very liberal and dysfunctional world who saw a laundry list of underlying market factors for silver’s rise who were in fact victims of a created crash intended to ruin them for their success and political leanings.

        There are contemporary parallels but as I said a lot is different, mostly due to instantaneous global information and trading ability, but one thing that has not changed and probably never will is the need, the greed, and the desire on the part of politicians and bureaucrats to use and control the free market to enhance their own power and agenda. Which is why the other succinct commentary on market machinations came from Johnny Hart years ago in one of his pawnbroker ‘toons…

        Guy goes into the pawn shop and asks the broker “What makes things valuable?” Broker answers “Rarity.” Guy says “Wow, gold must be first on the list!” Broker goes “No, kept campaign promises are number one.”


      • September 25, 2015 at 3:19 pm

        That should be Johhny Hart’s “B.C. pawnbroker ‘toons”.

  • September 25, 2015 at 12:27 am

    Pawn, I, too was involved in the previous silver fiasco. Luckily. I recognized it immediately. I bought in at 6, sold at 14. I was roundly criticized for not holding longer. Mostly by those who lost everything while waiting for 16.5.

    • September 25, 2015 at 3:57 pm


      Those figures indicate you bought into the echo after the very short-lived actual boom in ’80, and you timed it perfectly; always wise to cash out when you can double your money and the future is unknown. Same thing with real estate; I was small potatoes but I sold my commercial and rentals in ’05 when I smelled a bubble. I could have waited another year and got probably 50% more, then again I might have missed the boat and got 50% less.

      Your “those who lost everything” rings painfully true for me as I had a couple of long-time customers who had made money on the boom but couldn’t resist a second go around on the echo…they bought “silver bags” from me ($1000 face value of common circulated US 90% silver coins) for $5000 each and asked if they should sell when they could double it very soon after. I told them I don’t give investment advice but that I myself would and did liquidate at double. As you said the fever or simple greed caused them to decide to wait for triple. When the echo crashed to $3000 one guy who had bought two bags took his licks and sucked it up. The other guy who had bought ten bags sucked on his gun barrel instead. Turned out he had borrowed $50K on his house; guess he figured his wife would kill him anyway.

      Still pains me to think of that, and one of the few nuggets of advice I now offer people when they ask is, “Never invest/speculate/gamble money that you can’t afford to lose.”

      • September 25, 2015 at 4:54 pm
        B Woodman

        “Never invest/speculate/gamble money that you can’t afford to lose.”

        My father always said that. I remember it was in reference to stock market speculation.

  • September 25, 2015 at 5:38 am
    Bill G

    These figures certainly add up.

  • September 25, 2015 at 8:07 am
    Ivan the Red

    @armedandsafe I got caught even worse when silver was north of $40. Kept buying and then it fell hard. The good news? I still have it all in my safe.

    • September 25, 2015 at 9:51 am

      Well, if lycanthropes ever become a problem, and you handload, you’re all set. Just remember that silver has a higher melting point than lead.




      • September 25, 2015 at 12:43 pm

        Most mold will melt before the sliver will melt.

      • September 25, 2015 at 1:15 pm

        Sorry, moulds.

      • September 25, 2015 at 5:01 pm

        Hah…for a moment my brain did say “wait, mold doesn’t grow on silver”

      • September 25, 2015 at 6:11 pm

        Jeweler’s graphite crucible and high-temp propane burner. The molten silver cools just enough in the pour that it won’t mess up the mould.

        Go to an SCA meet sometime and you can see it done the old-fashioned way; in a firebrick kiln heated with coke and a hand-pumped bellows. Incredibly fascinating to watch and a PITA to do.



  • September 25, 2015 at 10:07 am
    B Woodman

    Yes, Sam, the view.
    What the man sees with his personal peepers. NOT the verdamdt TV show.

  • September 25, 2015 at 10:12 am

    that would appear to be The General? Cigar Dave?

  • September 25, 2015 at 11:05 am
    Oliver Heaviside

    Read “The Ascent of Money” by Niall Ferguson. Good lively read, not boring. Gold isn’t money; neither is silver. Money is “trust”….

  • September 25, 2015 at 11:07 am

    A lovely view is always appreciated.

    Economists. They usually know nothing about figures.

    Speaking of know nothings. The House is losing it’s Boner. Hallelujah.

    • September 25, 2015 at 12:54 pm

      And Chris – so many possibilities with the “Boner-man”. Take a deep breath, and pack a lunch. I know you’re going to be all day.

  • September 25, 2015 at 1:52 pm

    “Economists, Sam, they appreciate figures.”

    Little did I know that I’m a natural “Economist.”

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