The Cardinal Sin of Investing: Permanent Impairment of Capital

Last week we presented a parade of indicators published by Grant Williams and Lance Roberts that warned of an approaching market correction as well as a coming economic recession.

The key message was: When smart analysts independently find the same patterns in the data, it's time to take notice.

Well, many of you did, by participating in this week's Dangerous Markets webinar, which featured Grant and Lance.

In it, both went much deeper into the structural fragility of today's financial markets and the many reasons why economic growth will remain constrained for years to come.

The excessive build-up of debt in the system -- and the absolute dependence on its continued expansion to keep the economy from imploding -- is, of course, seen as the prime risk to future growth.

As Lance demonstrates here with several of his excellent charts, so much leverage has been taken on that its servicing is increasingly stealing capital that would otherwise go to savings, consumption and productive investment. Going forward, the demands of the debt service will simply result in less and less capital available left over to grow the economy:

As financial assets are (supposed to be) valued on future growth prospects, lower forecasted growth demands lower valuations. Grant calculates that, should the US see another decade of 2% average annual GDP growth (and it has averaged less than that over the past decade), stock prices should be roughly half of what they are today to be considered fairly valued:

And Lance builds further on this, explaining how this moribund growth, coupled with America's aging demographic trend, will simply savage the nation's (already troublesomely underfunded) pension and entitlement systems:

But there are a number of other destabilizing risks to fear beyond our terminal debt addiction. One that Grant believes is not getting enough attention right now is the de-dollarization trend becoming notably apparent across a number of America's strategic trading partners:

These clips are merely several minute's worth of the excellent discussion and insights from the full one hour-and-a-half long Dangerous Markets webinar. Those interested in watching the full webinar can learn more here.

It's little surprise that, given this multitude of concerns and systemic risks, both Grant and Lance advise investors to prioritize caution. They see extremely few undervalued -- or even fairly valued -- asset classes at today's prices, perceiving nearly everything else at dangerously elevated levels.

In a situation like this, moving your capital to the sidelines may be the best move available. The risks of remaining long are obvious. But betting against the market has been a losing proposition for years -- no one knows how many months/years the central planners may be able to hold reality at bay.

Grant and Lance wrestle every day with market allocation decisions on behalf of their clients (and they discuss a number of potential options in the webinar). But both agree that, since the math is clear a major-to-massive correction will happen at some point, having dry powder set in reserve to deploy at much lower prices is a low-risk/high-reward strategy.

In Part 2: Smart Strategies For Building & Managing Your Cash Savings, we address many of the most frequently-asked questions involved in holding cash right now, including strategies for preserving purchasing power, avoiding bail-ins, fees and other threats to cash savings.

As Grant concludes on the webinar: Permanent impairment of capital is the cardinal sin of investing. Well, today's markets present a clear and present danger of coming capital impairment for those who don't take prudent action in advance of a market downturn. Don't be guilty of inaction.

Click here to read Part 2 of this report (free executive summary, enrollment required for full access)

This was one of the first homesteads in the area in the 1880's and was just begging to be brought back to its original glory — with a touch of modern. When we first purchased the property, it was full of old stuff without any running water, central heat or AC, so needless to say, we had a huge project ahead of us. It took some vision and a whole lot of trust, but the mess we started with seven years ago is now a place we hope the original owners would be proud of.

To restore something like this is really does take a village. It doesn't take much money to make it cozy inside, if like me you are willing to take time and gather things here and there from thrift shops and little antique shops in the middle of nowhere.

But finding the right craftsman is a different story.

Matt Jensen and his assistant Rob did this entire job from sketches I made. Because he built this in his off hours it took just over a year, but so worth the wait. It wasn't easy as it was 18"out of square. He had to build around that as the entire thing we felt would collapse. Matt just reinforced the structure and we love its imperfections.

Here are a few pictures of the process and the transformation from where we started to where we are now:

​How it was

It doesn't look like much yet, but just you wait and see!

By request a photo tour of the restored cabin. I start doing the interior design in earnest tomorrow after the show, but all of the construction guys are now done. So I mopped the floors, washed the sheets, some friends helped by washing the windows. And now the unofficial / official tour.

The Property

The views are absolutely stunning and completely peaceful.

The Hong Kong protesters flocking to the streets in opposition to the Chinese government have a new symbol to display their defiance: the Stars and Stripes. Upset over the looming threat to their freedom, the American flag symbolizes everything they cherish and are fighting to preserve.

But it seems our president isn't returning the love.

Trump recently doubled down on the United States' indifference to the conflict, after initially commenting that whatever happens is between Hong Kong and China alone. But he's wrong — what happens is crucial in spreading the liberal values that America wants to accompany us on the world stage. After all, "America First" doesn't mean merely focusing on our own domestic problems. It means supporting liberal democracy everywhere.

The protests have been raging on the streets since April, when the government of Hong Kong proposed an extradition bill that would have allowed them to send accused criminals to be tried in mainland China. Of course, when dealing with a communist regime, that's a terrifying prospect — and one that threatens the judicial independence of the city. Thankfully, the protesters succeeded in getting Hong Kong's leaders to suspend the bill from consideration. But everyone knew that the bill was a blatant attempt by the Chinese government to encroach on Hong Kong's autonomy. And now Hong Kong's people are demanding full-on democratic reforms to halt any similar moves in the future.

After a generation under the "one country, two systems" policy, the people of Hong Kong are accustomed to much greater political and economic freedom relative to the rest of China. For the protesters, it's about more than a single bill. Resisting Xi Jinping and the Communist Party means the survival of a liberal democracy within distance of China's totalitarian grasp — a goal that should be shared by the United States. Instead, President Trump has retreated to his administration's flawed "America First" mindset.

This is an ideal opportunity for the United States to assert our strength by supporting democratic values abroad. In his inaugural address, Trump said he wanted "friendship and goodwill with the nations of the world" while "understanding that it is the right of all nations to put their interests first." But at what point is respecting sovereignty enabling dictatorships? American interests are shaped by the principles of our founding: political freedom, free markets, and human rights. Conversely, the interests of China's Communist Party are the exact opposite. When these values come into conflict, as they have in Hong Kong, it's our responsibility to take a stand for freedom — even if those who need it aren't within our country's borders.

Of course, that's not a call for military action. Putting pressure on Hong Kong is a matter of rhetoric and positioning — vital tenets of effective diplomacy. When it comes to heavy-handed world powers, it's an approach that can really work. When the Solidarity movement began organizing against communism in Poland, President Reagan openly condemned the Soviet military's imposition of martial law. His administration's support for the pro-democracy movement helped the Polish people gain liberal reforms from the Soviet regime. Similarly, President Trump doesn't need to be overly cautious about retribution from Xi Jinping and the Chinese government. Open, strong support for democracy in Hong Kong not only advances America's governing principles, but also weakens China's brand of authoritarianism.

After creating a commission to study the role of human rights in U.S. foreign policy, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo wrote last month that the principles of our Constitution are central "not only to Americans," but to the rest of the world. He was right — putting "America First" means being the first advocate for freedom across the globe. Nothing shows the strength of our country more than when, in crucial moments of their own history, other nations find inspiration in our flag.

Let's join the people of Hong Kong in their defiance of tyranny.

Matt Liles is a writer and Young Voices contributor from Austin, Texas.

Summer is ending and fall is in the air. Before you know it, Christmas will be here, a time when much of the world unites to celebrate the love of family, the generosity of the human spirit, and the birth of the Christ-child in Bethlehem.

For one night only at the Kingsbury Hall in Salt Lake City, on December 7th, join internationally-acclaimed radio host and storyteller Glenn Beck as he walks you through tales of Christmas in the way that only he can. There will be laughs, and there might be a few tears. But at the end of the night, you'll leave with a warm feeling in your heart and a smile on your face.

Reconnect to the true spirit of Christmas with Glenn Beck, in a storytelling tour de force that you won't soon forget.

Get tickets and learn more about the event here.

The general sale period will be Friday, August 16 at 10:00 AM MDT. Stay tuned to for updates. We look forward to sharing in the Christmas spirit with you!