Van Halen, M&Ms, and the Next Market Downturn

The planet-sized egos of rock & roll performers are legendary.

Few things symbolize this better than the outrageous requests they often make when on tour.

These requests are referred to as "riders", and appear in the contract a tour venue receives in advance of the artist's arrival. These contract riders specify the physical conditions that the singer/band requires to be in place before arriving to perform. Stage lighting settings, sound equipment, furnishings, etc -- that kind of stuff.

And these rider requests can get pretty funky - often extremely so -- when it comes to backstage perks the performers want.

For example: A wooden pond filled with koi carp (Eminem). A driver who will not speak or make eye contact (Katy Perry). 20 white kittens and 100 doves (Mariah Carey). Seven dwarves (Iggy Pop). 50,000 bees (Slayer). A sub-machine gun (Mötley Crüe). And, yes, even a great white shark (Hank III).

The practice of making these kind of outrageous demands stems from a rider Van Halen inserted into the contract for its 1982 world tour, which insisted on a bowl of M&Ms to be provided backstage, but with all of the brown M&Ms removed.

As this image below of the actual rider shows, the band was very explicit in its seriousness about this:

Once the media got whiff of this, it had a field day roasting the band's narcissistic chutzpah. A new high-water mark of diva capriciousness had been established, which quickly became legend. A feat of prima donna pampering that subsequent performers have been trying to top ever since.

But as crazy as it sounds, Van Halen's "no brown M&Ms" rider had nothing to do with caprice. There was a solid rationale behind it.

In fact, it was quite brilliant.

The Importance Of Effective Indicators

Van Halen's 1982 world tour was a massive production, involving a tremendous amount of gear and technical complexity. The contract the band sent in advance to venues was so thick due to all the details within, it was referred to as the "Chinese Yellow Pages".

Non-compliance with the requirements in the contract could have serious consequences that could ruin the show, or even jeopardize lives.

So when the band rolled up to its next venue, it needed a quick way to determine if the stage crew there had complied with all of the specifications within its contract.

And that's why the "no brown M&Ms" rider was inserted. The band could simply hop off the bus and check the candy bowl. If they found brown M&Ms, they knew the contract hadn't been carefully read. And then they'd immediately call for a full-line check of the entire set.

As lead singer David Lee Roth detailed in his autobiography:

Van Halen was the first band to take huge productions into tertiary, third-level markets. We’d pull up with nine eighteen-wheeler trucks, full of gear, where the standard was three trucks, max. And there were many, many technical errors — whether it was the girders couldn’t support the weight, or the flooring would sink in, or the doors weren’t big enough to move the gear through.

The contract rider read like a version of the Chinese Yellow Pages because there was so much equipment, and so many human beings to make it function. So just as a little test, in the technical aspect of the rider, it would say “Article 148: There will be fifteen amperage voltage sockets at twenty-foot spaces, evenly, providing nineteen amperes …” This kind of thing. And article number 126, in the middle of nowhere, was: “There will be no brown M&M’s in the backstage area, upon pain of forfeiture of the show, with full compensation.”

So, when I would walk backstage, if I saw a brown M&M in that bowl … well, line-check the entire production. Guaranteed you’re going to arrive at a technical error. They didn’t read the contract. Guaranteed you’d run into a problem. Sometimes it would threaten to just destroy the whole show. Something like, literally, life-threatening.

Genius.

Through its rider, the band had created a easy-to-monitor and trustworthy indicator. No brown M&Ms, and the show was likely set up to go smoothly. But if otherwise, don't perform until the entire venue is scrutinized for other missed requirements.

The lesson to take from Van Halen's wisdom is that having good indicators is key to achieving success.

This is also extremely true for the world of investing, where you are deploying capital based upon an expected future return. How do you determine when it's a good time to enter into an investment? Once in it, how do you monitor the conditions supporting your rationale for holding it -- are those changing? And if so, are they getting better or worse? When should you exit the position?

For all of these questions, the better the indicators you use, the more accurate and informed your decision-making will be. And the better your returns as an investor will be.

When The Indicators Are Giving A Signal, Pay Attention

Over the years, we've compiled a large number of indicators that we monitor closely on an ongoing basis here at PeakProsperity.com. They most definitely inform our economic outlook and forecasting.

We'll dedicate an upcoming report to laying out the sources and metrics we place the greatest weighting on. But several that we're watching closely right now come from two market analysts that we highly respect.

The first set comes from Lance Roberts, chief strategist/economist for Clarity Financial. Lance is renowned for his excellent charts and ability to highlight key changes in data trends. Below are several indicators he's recently featured, suggesting weariness in the US financial markets and growing likelihood of economic recession.

First, the S&P 500 is showing signs of topping out, having broken below the trading range of its latest 8-month bullish trend, and its MACD momentum indicator displaying two recent sell signals:

Lance warns that such signals suggest that further price gains will be "volatile and limited" unless the S&P returns into its bullish channel. If it indeed does not and drops below the key resistance level of 2390, he sees a swift price correction of 12% as a real possibility.

But he then combines this near-term technical analysis with more far-sighted data to make the point that the financial markets are not just overbought, but dangerously overvalued at this point. Similar to John Hussman (another producer of market indicators we value highly), Lance shows that, because today's prices are the result of pulling so much of tomorrow's valuation into today (e.g., via the suppression of interest rates and overexuberant speculation), we are living at a rare time in history where the average market return for the next 20 years may well be negative:

And he recently caught our attention by surfacing this chart of the change in annual Real Value Added to the US economy, a metric that hadn't been on our radar beforehand. This has been a reliable indicator of recession in the US for nearly 70 years, and is now signaling that we've likely already entered one:

Couple Lance's indicators with those of our other expert, Grant Williams, portfolio advisor at Vulpes Investment Management and co-founder of Real Vision TV. Grant and the team at Real Vision recently issued their latest Killer Charts series, which adds validation and additional weight to Lance's warnings.

First off, Grant and his team see similar technical signs of "exhaustion" in the S&P 500 and predict lower prices ahead:

Note that they don't just expect the S&P to correct slightly and then continuing powering higher. Other indicators they track, like the equities-vs-commodities ratio, strongly suggests a bubble peak for the S&P. From here they predict a secular bear trend for stocks (possibly paired with a new bull trend in commodities):

And like Lance, Grant sees signs that the US economy is poised to slow further...

.. and is likely, as Lance also concludes, tipping into recession:

When smart analysts independently find the same patterns in the data, it's time to take notice.

The charts above are only a few of the indicators Lance and Grant monitor that are now sending strong cautionary warnings about the near-term prospects for the financial markets and the underlying economy. What other key metrics should we also be tracing closely right now?

To dig much deeper into this, Lance and Grant will be presenting their latest indicators, analysis and forecasts at the Dangerous Markets webinar on September 13th -- where they will take ample questions live from the audience. For more information on the webinar, click here.

Editor's Note: The following is a guest post by Adam Taggert with PeakProsperity.com.

Top 5 MOST EVIL taxes the government extorts from you

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"In this world nothing is certain but death and taxes." -Ben Franklin

The injustice of taxation has been a core issue for Americans since the very beginning of our country, and it's a problem we have yet to resolve. This belief was recently reignited in many Americans earlier this month on tax day when the numbers were crunched and it was discovered that the government was somehow owed even more hard-earned money. As Glenn recently discussed on his show, it's getting to be impossible for most Americans to afford to live comfortably, inflation is rising, and our politicians keep getting richer.

The taxpayer's burden is heavier than ever.

The government is not above some real low blows either. While taxes are a necessary evil, some taxes stretch the definition of "necessary" and emphasize the "evil." Here are the top five most despicable taxes that are designed to line the IRS coffers at your expense:

Income Tax

Joe Raedle / Staff | Getty Images

"It would be a hard government that should tax its people one-tenth part of their income." -Ben Franklin

On February 24th, 2024 we hit a very unfortunate milestone, the 101st anniversary of the 16th Amendment, which authorized federal income tax. Where does the government get the right to steal directly out of your paycheck?

Death Taxes

Dan Mullan / Staff | Getty Images

"Now my advice for those who die, Declare the pennies on your eyes" -George Harrison

Not even in death can you escape the cold pursuit of the tax collector. It's not good enough that you have to pay taxes on everything you buy and every penny you make your entire life. Now the feds want a nice slice, based on the entire value of your estate, that can be as much as 40 percent. Then the state government gets to stick their slimy fingers all over whatever remains before your family is left with the crumbs. It's practically grave-robbery.

Payroll

Bloomberg / Contributor | Getty Images

"The power to tax is the power to destroy." -John Marshall

What's that? The nice chunk of your paycheck the government nabs before you can even get it to the bank wasn't enough? What if the government taxed your employer just for paying you? In essence, you make less than what your agreed pay rate is and it costs your employer more! Absolutely abominable.

Social Security

VALERIE MACON / Contributor | Getty Images

"We don't have a trillion-dollar debt because we haven't taxed enough; we have a trillion-dollar debt because we spend too much." -Ronald Reagan

Everyone knows the collapse of Social Security is imminent. It has limped along for years, only sustained by a torrent of tax dollars and the desperate actions of politicians. For decades, people have unwillingly forked over money into the system they will never see again.

FICA

Kevin Dietsch / Staff | Getty Images

"What at first was plunder assumed the softer name of revenue." -Thomas Paine

FICA is the payroll equivalent of Social Security. Your employer has to match however much you pay. It means it costs your employer even more to pay you—again, you'll NEVER see that money. At this point, are you even working for yourself, or are you just here to generate money for the government to frivolously throw away?

5 DISTURBING ways World War III will be different from previous wars

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Has World War III begun?

Over the weekend, Iran launched an unprecedented attack against Israel involving over 300 missiles and drones. This marked the first direct attack on Israel originating from Iranian territory. Fortunately, according to an Israel Defense Forces spokesperson Rear Admiral Daniel Hagari, 99 percent of missiles and drones were successfully neutralized by Israeli defense systems. Iran claimed that the operation against Israel had concluded and that no further offensive was planned, although the possibility of another attack is still present.

This has left many people, including Glenn, wondering the same thing: did we just witness the start of World War III?

Glenn recently had a World War II Air Force Veteran as a guest on his TV special, who told stories of the horrors he and his brothers-in-arms faced in the skies over war-torn Europe. This was a timely reminder of the terrors of war and a warning that our future, if it leads to another world war, is a dark one.

But, if Glenn's coverage of the Iranian attack revealed one thing, it's that World War III will look nothing like the world wars of the twentieth century. Long gone are the days of John "Lucky" Luckadoo and his "Bloody Hundredth" bravely flying their B-17s into battle. Over the weekend, we saw hundreds of autonomous drones and missiles clashing with extreme speed and precision over several different fronts (including space) simultaneously. This ain't your grandfather's war.

From EMP strikes to cyber attacks, here are FIVE ways the face of war has changed:

EMP attacks

New York Daily News Archive / Contributor | Getty Images

The entire modern world, on every level, is completely dependent on electricity. From your home refrigerator to international trade, the world would come to a grinding halt without power. And as Glenn has pointed out, it wouldn't even be that hard to pull off. All it would take is 3 strategically placed, high-altitude nuclear detonations and the entire continental U.S. would be without power for months if not years. This would cause mass panic across the country, which would be devastating enough on its own, but the chaos could be a perfect opportunity for a U.S. land invasion.

Nuclear strikes

Galerie Bilderwelt / Contributor | Getty Images

Nuclear war is nothing new. Many of us grew up during the Cold War, built fallout shelters, and learned to duck and cover. But times have changed. The Berlin Wall fell and so did the preparedness of the average American to weather a nuclear attack. As technology has advanced, more of our adversaries than ever have U.S. cities within their crosshairs, and as Glenn has pointed out, these adversaries are not exactly shy about that fact. Unfortunately, the possibility of an atomic apocalypse is as real as ever.

Immigration warfare

Nick Ut / Contributor | Getty Images

The strategy of strangling an opposing nation's economy to gain the upper hand is a wartime tactic as old as time. That's why the Border Crisis is so alarming. What better way to damage an opponent's economy than by overburdening it with millions of undocumented immigrants? As Glenn has covered, these immigrants are not making the trek unaided. There is a wide selection of organizations that facilitate this growing disaster. These organizations are receiving backing from around the globe, such as the WEF, the UN, and U.S. Democrats! Americans are already feeling the effects of the border crisis. Imagine how this tactic could be exploited in war.

Cyber shutdowns

Bill Hinton / Contributor | Getty Images

Cyber attacks will be a major tactic in future wars. We've already experienced relatively minor cyber strikes from Russia, China, and North Korea, and it is a very real possibility that one of our adversaries inflicts a larger attack with devastating consequences on the United States. In fact, the WEF has already predicted a "catastrophic" cyber attack is imminent, and Glenn suggests that it is time to start preparing ourselves. A cyber attack could be every bit as devastating as an EMP, and in a world run by computers, nothing is safe.

Biological assault

WPA Pool / Pool | Getty Images

Don't trust the "experts." That was the takeaway many of us had from the pandemic, but something less talked about is the revelation that China has manufactured viruses that are capable of spreading across the globe. We now know that the lab leak hypothesis is true and that the Wuhan lab manufactured the virus that infected the entire world. That was only ONE virus from ONE lab. Imagine what else the enemies of America might be cooking up.

The government is WAGING WAR against these 3 basic needs

NICHOLAS KAMM / Contributor | Getty Images

The government has launched a full-on assault against our basic needs, and people are starting to take notice.

As long-time followers of Glenn are probably aware, our right to food, water, and power is under siege. The government no longer cares about our general welfare. Instead, our money lines the pockets of our politicians, funds overseas wars, or goes towards some woke-ESG-climate-Great Reset bullcrap. And when they do care, it's not in a way that benefits the American people.

From cracking down on meat production to blocking affordable power, this is how the government is attacking your basic needs:

Food

Fiona Goodall / Stringer | Getty Images

Glenn had Rep. Thomas Massie on his show where he sounded the alarm about the attack on our food. The government has been waging war against our food since the thirties when Congress passed the Agricultural Adjustment Act of 1938. They started by setting strict limits on how many crops a farmer could grow in a season and punishing anyone who grew more—even if it was intended for personal use, not for sale on the market. This sort of autocratic behavior has continued into the modern day and has only gotten more draconian. Today, not only are you forced to buy meat that a USDA-approved facility has processed, but the elites want meat in general off the menu. Cow farts are too dangerous to the environment, so the WEF wants you to eat climate-friendly alternatives—like bugs.

Water

ALESSANDRO RAMPAZZO / Contributor | Getty Images

As Glenn discussed during a recent Glenn TV special, the government has been encroaching on our water for years. It all started when Congress passed the Clean Water Act in 1972, which gave the government the ability to regulate large bodies of water. As the name suggests, the act was primarily intended to keep large waterways clear of pollution, but over time it has allowed the feds to assume more and more control over the country's water supply. Most recently, the Biden administration attempted to expand the reach of the Clean Water Act to include even more water and was only stopped by the Supreme Court.

Electricity

David McNew / Staff | Getty Images

Dependable, affordable electricity has been a staple of American life for decades, but that might all be coming to an end. Glenn has discussed recent actions taken by Biden, like orders to halt new oil and gas production and efforts to switch to less efficient sources of power, like wind or solar, the price of electricity is only going to go up. This, alongside his efforts to limit air conditioning and ban gas stoves, it almost seems Biden is attempting to send us back to the Stone Age.

4 signs that PROVE Americans are hitting rock bottom

Spencer Platt / Staff | Getty Images

As we approach the presidential election in November, many Americans are facing dire economic straits.

Glenn has shown time and time again that Bidenomics is a sham, and more Americans than ever are suffering as a result. Still, Biden and his cronies continue to insist that the economy is booming despite the mounting evidence to the contrary. But who is Biden fooling? Since the beginning of the year, gas has gone up an average of 40 cents a gallon nationwide, with some states seeing as much as a 60-cent per gallon increase. And that's just the tip of the iceberg. Foreclosures and bankruptcies are on the rise, evictions are surging, and America is experiencing a record amount of homelessness. We can't survive another Biden term.

Americans across the country are hitting rock bottom, and here are four stats that PROVE it:

Evictions

John Moore / Staff | Getty Images

Across the country, people are being evicted from their homes and apartments. Between 2021 and 2023, evictions increased by 78.6 percent. With inflation driving up prices and employers struggling to raise wages to compensate, rent is taking up an increasingly larger percentage of people's paychecks. Many Americans are having to choose between buying groceries and paying rent.

Foreclosures

Justin Sullivan / Staff | Getty Images

Renters aren't the only ones struggling to make their monthly payments, foreclosures are on the rise. This February saw a 5 percent increase in foreclosures from last year and a 10 percent increase from January. More and more Americans are losing their homes and businesses.

Bankruptcies

Chris Hondros / Staff | Getty Images

High interest rates and inflation have driven bankruptcies through the roof. Total filings have risen 13 percent and business bankruptcies rose 30 percent in 2023. It's getting harder and harder for businesses to stay afloat, and with California's new law requiring most restaurants to pay all employees a minimum of $20 an hour, you can expect that number to keep climbing.

Homelessness

FREDERIC J. BROWN / Contributor | Getty Images

The result of all of these issues is that it is getting harder and harder for Americans to afford the basic necessities. January of 2023 saw a record-breaking 650,000+ homeless Americans, a 12 percent jump from the previous year. More Americans have hit rock bottom than ever before.