Early in July Marieta and I attended Freedom Fest in Las Vegas. Mark Skousen, who writes a financial newsletter I like to read, puts on the conference. He teaches economics (Columbia University), writes a lot of books, and loves free markets. His non-partisan, libertarian conference brings together all sorts of people. I was there for investment advice. Marieta came to keep me company.

We had a great time listening to all sorts of opinions. Here are a few:

“China has grown 8.2% per year over the last 40 years. Look to China.”

“China’s growth bubble is about to burst. Get out of China.”

“If government grows faster than GDP, you can’t get out of the [recession] box.”

“When your outflow exceeds your inflow, your upkeep becomes your downfall.”

“A water crisis is coming. Buy companies with water rights.”

“Stocks are having a 90% off sale. What’s not to like?”

“Ten times book value is as much risk as you want.”

“The Dow should be at 3000.” (Right now it is at 10,400.)

“A killer wave is coming.” (Recession is the first wave. Then the bargain hunters come in hoping for an upturn. The Government continues to tax and spend, resulting in a killer wave, even bigger than the first wave, which takes everyone out. This theory came with a chart of what happened to the stock market in the Great Depression.)

“Something for nothing societies eat everything, including next year’s seeds.”

“When it is dark, you can see the stars.”

“All paper currencies will fail.”

“You can’t hedge against a complete collapse, so we don’t think about it.”

My favorite quote was, “If you prepare for the end too soon, you could miss a lot of good trades.”

There were a few political presenters. One debate was about Israel. George Gilder, an author I like a lot, was very pro-Israel. The other guy represented a group of Jews against Israel. He argued that the Jews should leave Israel to the poor, victimized Palestinians. He also hated Christians because they believed all Muslims would go to hell. Marieta and I were stunned at the very emotional comments, pro and con, from the audience.

A trade show was part of the conference. You could buy gold (8 booths), invest in oil drilling (5 booths), become a Libertarian (3 booths), buy investment newsletters (6 booths), buy investment books (12 booths), move your money to an offshore bank before the US government starts taxing your transfers in 2013 (3 booths), invest in foreign currencies (4 booths), find a broker or money manager (5 booths), and buy DVDs of all the conference presentations. (My booth numbers are approximate.) There were a few more unmemorable booths.

To and from the show Marieta and I listened to Gerald Lund’s book about the Willie and Martin pioneer handcart companies. My 2nd great-grandfather Jens O Peterson and his wife Anne went in the Willie company.  Marieta also had a ancestors in the Willie company, of which one died at Rock Creek Hollow and another died at South Pass. The wonderful book was a weird accompaniment to the investment conference. The conference was all about protecting your savings in times of trouble, and the book was all about people with no savings and no resources just trying to survive and remain faithful.

I have a few thoughts on investing, which I will share in the next post. Pete