Buy gold and go to the beach: An investment strategy after my heart. So the positive movement in the precious metals markets over the past few weeks was welcome action as the family vacationed at our lake cabin. We were all enchanted by the tiny tenants of a hummingbird nest anchored to a small hemlock in our side yard. Growing vigorously to an overflowing size they were aggressively testing their wings and nearly ready to fly. As we were peeking over the lichen lined lip of the nest one morning my son commented that he kept thinking there was something at the edge of his vision, but that when he looked there was nothing. I had noticed the same thing, thinking I was over tired. Soon after my father, my son and I all sensed a storm coming, but nothing came of it. When parents departed my son and I both caught an early afternoon nap. I quickly dropped of and dreamt of a large bear charging about the neighborhood scaring folks but not hurting anyone. It was a strange dream in that is was fits and starts and flashes like a collage. Startled awake, I stumbled out of the bedroom pondering the obvious metaphor of the bear and financial matters but soon noticed that my wife was sitting quietly gazing out over the water. The feel of the approaching storm was ominous. The power had been out for a while.
Still groggy, I watched the approaching wind from the porch. Storm watching is a sport up here, and they are spectacular. But the wall of spray was something new. Several hundred feet high, it was moving fast. Suddenly life was fits and starts and flashes. Giant water toys were doing the Wizard of Oz. In an instant, a waterspout whip-lashed, snapped-off and carried a 150 foot tall white pine onto the roof. Large branches punctured the roof deck over my son's room, but the tree bounced back shattering in two and inundating the side yard in lethal debris.
Immediately we all gathered under the post and beam structure in the center of the cabin. The portico windows frame dozens of giant evergreens. We watched the wind bend two foot diameter trees to impossible angles. Several trees of over a hundred years snapped and slammed into the ground. And then a few of the patriarchs gave way with horrendous tearing and crashing. Then the bear was gone, a mere gale in its wake. Stepping outside was surreal. Anyone in the side yard with the hummingbirds would have been killed. Impaled, a baby squirrel was screaming. The hummingbird's tree was broken and stripped, the nest empty but intact on the one remaining branch. There was no sign of the nestlings. The mother kept checking the nest. By God's grace, our nestling was safe.
For a hundred yards or so in either direction trees fallen in clusters showed where winds of incredible force touched the ground. Chainsaws soon echoed. As we finished cutting our way out and things settled down the baby hummingbirds returned. It was hard to imagine how they might have survived. I have this image of their small hemlock being bent to the ground, tearing loose and springing back. I looked for feathers. Apparently they were none the worse after having been launched into their first flight by what in their universe was apocalyptic. Smiling, I remembered that my wife had named the cabin "Hummingbird House" the year before. My mind began swimming with tired metaphors and parochial insights but what has remained is a strange sense of comfort in the face of growing financial turbulence.
We do appear to have had a significant breakout in the precious metals. Attending a family wedding in Kauai and bumming about the Islands during this period further supports my beach theory. Of course the break out was hammered upon our return. Ignoring the storm for the moment, I find the mere fact that the initial break out took place against the seasonals intriguing, and this has fulfilled my intermediate expectations. The yen carry unwind has become momentarily vicious, and deflationary implosions in kinky finance will likely continue. How long they will overshadow inflationary pressures in stuff is unknowable, given the opacity of Wall Street's black box fantasies. Well, at least it took a global liquidity event to ding the precious metals complex this time. And it was done so only with paper selling. Notice that the less liquid shares are taking less damage? It seems the shares I want are actually moving up. In particular, my pink sheets favorites have seen a bit more life and some nice pops. So after the past couple of days, baby hummingbirds keep coming to mind.