2016 – Time To Pay The Piper

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Having shattered my crystal ball and destroyed my soothsayer outfit, I speak about the potential for 2016 events with no expectations of superb accuracy. I’m more than willing to simply win the “Blind Squirrel” award.

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I would very much like to write a commentary full of high hopes and visions of great things to come; I assure you it would be far more personally profitable. While many of the concerns I have could also be used by those selling guns, ammo, dry food, and survival kits, I don’t have any sales motives other than continuing a business method I’ve grown accustomed to:

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If you believe telling the brutal truth is the norm and is personally highly profitable in my line of work, you’re more than welcome to come spend some time with me. Just be prepared to feel like this guy.

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So what exactly have I been saying that doesn’t cause clients to beat a path to my door?

Many would-be clients reverse course and head in the opposite direction when I state just two of several critical points of view:

  • America is on the threshold of its worst economic, social and political crisis ever. (I believe the social and political part is already underway.)
  • Most investors’ financial plans are DOA (dead on arrival) because what the vast majority of the financial services industry holds out as “financial planning” is badly flawed (and far more likely to make the person giving the so-called advice wealthier than the person receiving it).

One of the predictions I made that sadly has come true in the majority of eyes is that Obama is the worst president in U.S. history. While fiscal irresponsibility, division among ethnic groups and political paralysis didn’t just start when Obama took office, they clearly have skyrocketed during his watch. The only thing that hasn’t yet occurred during his time is the inevitable implosion of financial markets from years of living and borrowing way beyond our means. But even here, only a small, select percentage of those at or near the top of the income pyramid have seen measurable gains during his occupation of the White House.

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But even the One-Percenters are about to be pelted by many in the 99-percent group whose dissatisfaction can no longer be kept in check. Political division in America has never been greater and geopolitical factors worldwide are no longer protected by the oceans on both sides of the country and the borders to the north and south.

Most of the financial services industry is dominated by a group I coined the “Don’t Worry, Be Happy” crowd. Not only can you toss them off the top of the Empire State Building and hear them say all the way down, “So far, so good”; but like most realtors who always say it’s a good time to buy, these “happy” people only drive on one-way streets. It may come as a surprise to many but markets don’t always go just one way. Right now, most investors are here:

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As noted, I’m out of the soothsayer business, but I do think making some educated “guesses” is okay, so long as it’s clear to anyone listening that the only person who truly knows the future is Almighty God.

With that in mind, here are some “guesses”:

Despite my assessments and knowing my sinful human nature, I shall try to take comfort in knowing the Creator of all that is good in the universe remains in charge, and I trust what He said in Romans 8:28 to be true:

 “We know that all things work for good for those who love God, who are called according to his purpose.”

 “It is always wise to look ahead, but difficult to look further than you can see.” – Winston Churchill

For about 30 years, I published the Grandich Letter.  For far too long I made a very poor assumption that just about everybody else does: I thought we could forecast the future.

Thankfully, after many years of being pretty good at it, I fell hard on my face (and pocketbook) and after the bleeding stopped, concluded this to be a very true statement for all who dare to call themselves soothsayers:

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Those who make a living looking into a crystal ball end up experts on how to eat broken glass.”

So as I pen my thoughts, know I not only put my pant legs on one at a time, but I, too, have lost my shirt on more than one occasion!

A BRIEF LOOK BACK – As a former “legend in my own mind,” I will simply remind us of what I said and leave any accolades or boos for another time.

When it came to the U.S. stock market, my thoughts were that little or no net gains overall should be expected, and that 2015 would mark the top for a very long time. The market overall indeed went nowhere, and it shall be awhile before we have any real insight as to whether it becomes a major top.

While U.S. Treasuries were thought as a lesser of two evils, I begged total avoidance of the high-yield (junk) bond market. I think avoidance has proven the right course of action as this market really peeled off into the year-end.

Another “Blind Squirrel” award nomination for me regarding oil: from far higher lofty prices, I spoke often about a price getting to the low $30s and maybe even briefly spike below $30 before any meaningful bottom could come to pass.

Now I could hope for “selective” amnesia on your part and look brilliant on just these past actions. However, the U.S. Dollar went higher than anticipated and gold lower than imagined so at best, my 2015 performance can win little more than “Blind Squirrel” or “Broken Clock” acknowledgments.

“You cannot escape the responsibility of tomorrow by evading it today.”  Abraham Lincoln

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There are a whole host of bearish fundamentals regarding the economic, social and political picture here in America and abroad but none more troublesome than the complacency I continue to see among the financial services industry and the investing public.

In my opinion, America’s worst economic, social and political era has arrived. Most Americas are either ill-prepared or in denial and the “happy” people they count on to advise them will likely do little to disrupt this pattern. Why? You’ll have to ask them.  All I know is that I decided a while back that when I stand before my Maker, I want there to be fewer things in the latter stages of my life on the list of things I need to answer to.

 America has been robbing Peter to pay Paul, but Peter is tapped out!

In just one or two generations, Americans have gone from asking “can we afford it” to “can we make the payment?”  We also have seen us go from living in far smaller dwellings with everything we own in that dwelling (except maybe a car parked outside) to average 3,000+ square-foot homes that not only have multiple cars parked outside with up to six years auto loans, but needing more and more public storage facilities to be built to store what we can’t seem to keep in the big homes.

George Carlin foresaw this years ago in this famous bit.

People ask me when I envision America will be better-off economically. I always answer “when we’re closing public storage facilities versus opening new ones.”

 Debts, Deficits and You

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America is awash in debt on the Federal, State, Local and personal levels. Most don’t comprehend or wish to face up to the dangers it has led to and somehow think it will just go away if not addressed. Congress has done that by first saying it would create a debt ceiling, then ignoring that ceiling a couple hundred times already and kicking the ever-increasing, debt-laden can down the road. Unfortunately, the end of the road is insight regardless if most want to call it just a mirage and simply say this.

A coming auto-loan crisis will be just one of many debt crises that will begin to take hold. Not properly funded pensions and a series of entitlement crises shall grip many Americans over the next several years.

Social and Political Upheaval

We’ve begun to see a “double-barrel” impact from the woes of social and political troubles that have been festering for years; they’ve accelerated since Obama arrived at the White House and started pouring gasoline on them. Whether it’s the coming battle between the haves and the have-not’s or the old versus the young; class, ethnic and political warfare has raised its ugly head and can no longer be swept under the carpet.

Among the hot-topic buttons that will only grow hotter in 2016 is the Muslim/Islam factor.

Back in 2009, I published this commentary. Because at the time my Grandich Newsletter was read worldwide, I received some harsh criticism from mostly outside the U.S. from Muslims and those who support Islam. I was accused of many things then that ironically the left, liberal crowd here and abroad is now calling those who are speaking out.

My writings back then were not politically motivated but merely uncovering a factor I thought was being neglected by the “Happy” crowd and would eventually become front and center to all. I think that “front and center” time has arrived!

That takes us to another factor which most either don’t comprehend or choose to ignore: America’s days as a Judeo-Christian nation are behind us. Dennis Prager wrote a piece on this with which I wholeheartedly agreed. The fall of our once Judeo-Christian society and the Muslim/Islam factor shall combine to be among the leading social/political battles to come. Sadly, I find myself on what looks more and more like the losing side. My sadness is mostly for my daughter as my wife and I got to enjoy a better society for much of our lives that my daughter appears destined not to.

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One Minute Video Says It All

Getting harassed for previous comments of mine was not limited to my Muslim/Islam commentaries. In early 2008 I wrote about the coming disaster the election of Obama would be, and I was told he indeed would bring true hope and change. Well, I suspect I’m not alone when I say it was more like “no-hope” and the change, well, it’s what he left in our pockets after eight years in office.

Perhaps even more disheartening was what he turned out not to be. We can only hope the next one is like what’s described in this article.

This recent exchange before Congress did more to undermine any feelings one might have that we can feel safe with the Obama administration in charge.

Finally (if this doesn’t shake out the remaining Obama lovers on my list, nothing will), if this one minute video describe the actions (or lack thereof) of Obama and what he has done to this once great nation, nothing will.

Other Factors To Consider:

Thoughts on the 2016 Investment Scene

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Keeping in mind this could be me, here are my best “guesses”:

U.S. Stock Market – While 2016 can begin with more from the “Don’t Worry, Be Happy” crowd about how the Fed is your friend and/or stocks can only go up, up and up; yours truly says the weight of reality overcomes the hopes and dreams, and equities once again will return to what they were for a few hundred years before they became “sure-things” – part ownership of companies.  The thing is, most companies need a good economy to prosper, and that part of the picture is sorely lacking. When it is recognized that the economy has been built on a house of cards and not solid fundamentals, the “All-In” players will end up with a “Bad-Beat”!

Heaven-forbid, overall equity ownership could actually provide a negative return.

U.S. Bonds – Treasuries appear to be the lesser of two evils over equities. Meanwhile, treating high-yield (junk) bonds like the plague was extremely worthy in 2015 and should remain so for 2016.

Oil and Natural Gas – An opportunity to start showing “affection” towards oil-related plays is likely some time in 2016. One needs to see how the year develops and then decide if pulling the trigger makes sense. Meanwhile, not spoken anywhere near the amount oil has been covered, natural gas may even be tougher to rebound anytime soon.

U.S. Dollar – Having been brought back from the threshold of terminal illness, it has now created a speculative (NOTE: speculation is a word Wall Street uses so it doesn’t have to call it what it really is – gambling) opportunity yours truly hopes to implement for himself (just because I’m crazy doesn’t mean you have to be). Putting my cash back into Canadian dollars and possibly other foreign currencies appears enticing. This is something that anyone considering really needs to appreciate the risks of, so tread carefully in any consideration.

Precious and Base Metals – Nothing precious about metals for a few years now. Even worse has been investment vehicles related to metals, such as mining and exploration shares. While my days of owning any new junior resource stock are long gone, it’s tempting to look at select, major mining companies across many different commodities. But since I gave new meaning to “stink” when I last played this field, I suggest you consider someone else’s viewpoints in this arena.

The actual metals themselves appear to have as much upside potential, if not more from here, then the remaining downside left in the horrific commodities bear market. But this sentence seemed worthy the last couple of years as well and look what that would’ve gotten ya! At the risk of pissing off the one or two people left in the U.S. who care about gold and silver, this former “soothsayer” feels it in his bones that 2016 see gold and silver outperform just about all other asset classes. Call it “wishful thinking”, but it would come as no surprise to see them each up 50% or more ($1500 -$1600 gold and $21 – $23 on silver sometime in 2016). Now where did I leave my “pipe”?

Up Close and Personal – There are a few very important points for me to make before signing off!

  • “The Seven Deadly Sins of Finance” is mandatory reading. It took decades of mental and financial mistakes and related divine-like teachings for me to finally truly appreciate the real world of finance. Only in recent times have I concluded I that finally have a reasonable opportunity for success, and I understand what greatly reduces the chances.
  • Burn all financial how-to books and instead read the best book on matters of finance. No, it’s not my book but instead one that’s stood the test of time for a couple thousand years and 200 million copies were printed last year alone – The Bible. Forget any religious aspects and instead just focus on the second most talked about topics in the book: money and possessions. When you do that, it will become clear the book is not a book of don’ts but a book of do’s, and on matters of finance it’s a treasure chest of worthy advice and guidance. I encourage you to read my “A Biblical Perspective on Matters of Finance.” 
  • With nervous excitement, I very much look forward to the opening of a new office for Trinity Financial. I’m grateful to my financial mentor and dear friend, Frank Congilose, for allowing me to be within his fine organization since 2001 and both Peter Grandich & Company and the Athletes and Business Alliance remain headquartered there. But I’ve longed to live and/or work in Spring Lake, NJ and taking possession of a storefront office space on February 1st can’t come soon enough.

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  • Finally, I shall turn 60 and be married 35 years come April. Here’s to one of the two greatest gifts I was ever blessed with, my wife Mary (daughter Tara the other). And to those who say 60 is the new 50, I say, “Please God. Let it be so!”

I no longer make New Year’s Resolutions not just because all shall fail thanks to my sinful human nature, but because James 4: 13-17 says it all:

“Come now, you who say, ‘Today or tomorrow we shall go into such and such a town, spend a year there doing business, and make a profit’— you have no idea what your life will be like tomorrow. You are a puff of smoke that appears briefly and then disappears. Instead you should say, ‘If the Lord wills it, – we shall live to do this or that.’ But now you are boasting in your arrogance. All such boasting is evil. So for one who knows the right thing to do and does not do it, it is a sin.”

I thank you for reading my blog and truly wish God’s peace be upon you for all the days of your life.

God Bless,

Peter