Marc Faber And Nassim Taleb On Risk, And The One Asset To Own Whether One Is Bearish Or Bullish

Tyler Durden's picture

Last year's Russia Forum was one of the must see events of the year, pitting such high powered independent thinkers as Marc Faber, Hugh Hendry, Nassim Taleb in a free for all. While the cliffhanger back then was the suggestion by Hendry that he had recreated the Paulson ABX trade with "1.5% downside and 75% upside" (which has since not been fully revealed aside from some occasional snippets in the periodic letters that it is a synthetic China short trade), the true brilliance was in the debate between the Treasury skeptics and the fan (Hendry). That said, with the entire curve surging wider, we hope Hendry took profits on his short as we are now virtually exactly where we were a year ago. This year's forum was just as entertaining, and while it didn't have quite a distinguished audience, it did feature Marc Faber and Nassim Taleb in a discussion of whether Russia is the best or worst BRIC. That said, trust both Faber and Taleb not to stick to the script and go off on wild tangents. Sure enough, the line of the night as usual belonged to Faber: "We have a big debate in the world whether we will have a deflationary collapse or an inflationary boom...usually after a period of very heavy money printing war follows." That is the philosophical gist of it. As for Faber's recommendation, it is precisely the asset which has become a short-seller's nightmare in the current geopolitically fragile environment: oil. "Whether you are very bullish or very bearish you should invest in oil."

Some other key quotes from Faber:

"When it comes to assets there is no asset that is always the best. An asset can be the best at the right price, when the price can be depressed. And the best asset when the price is too high is not a good asset."

"In a deflationary bust you have a credit collapse so the one thing you don't want to own are US government bonds, because they won't be able to pay, and before they can't pay they would print money like there is no tomorrow so the dollar would continuously depreciate which would obviously be good for assets that you can't multiply such as commodities and precious metals."

"I also think it they print money what then usually happens is that standards of living of the middle class and the working class go down, because the cost of living increases faster than wage gains, and so the population becomes very distraught and dissatisfied and eventually the government to stay in power or distract the attention of the people, either goes to war or blames a minority for the mishaps, but usually after a period of very heavy money printing war follows."

"If I invest today, I am considering the following: it is conceivable that because of ultra expansionary monetary policies in the world, and ultra expansionary fiscal policies in the US in particular, we have a temporary crack up boom. And the demand for oil in the western countries which has been declining since 2008, starts to pick up, and combined the oil demand in the world surprises on the upside, and pushes up oil prices, which would be beneficial for the oil producers, in particular Russia and Kazakhstan. Or you have what I think eventually happens: a complete systemic breakdown. I am the most bearish person long-term. If there is a complete breakdown, as I described with money printing and war, you want to be in commodities, specifically oil, because during war times commodity prices go ballistic. So whether you are very bullish or very bearish you should invest in oil."

"I think most emerging stock markets will go down for the next 3-6 months."

As for Taleb, the NYU philosopher once again looks at the world in terms of his favorite risk parameters: fragility vs robustness. Nassim compares the US and Russia on the fragility vs robustness scale. Try to guess which one according to the polymath is the fragile and the robust one.

Faber starts at 25 minutes into the clip, while Taleb is 40 minutes in.



Is Russia the Best or Worst in BRIC? from Troika Dialog on Vimeo.

And as a reminder, here is what Hendry said of Treasury's almost exactly one year ago to the day:

"I am hugely intellectually bullish on Treasuries. I am long. I fear the
end of QE, the money funds are making on the [curve], I am aware of the
issuance, I am aware that the States is going to have to sell $2.5
trillion of this stuff. But that's the marketplace - the marketplace
disseminates the bad stuff. I think there is a lesson in Japan. You
think they are going to succeed - Mark [Faber] thinks they are going to
create inflation. The precedent of Japan suggest that if you allow
leverage in your society to breach a certain level, let's call it 200 or
230% of GDP, then what happens is monetary policy doesn't work, fiscal
policy doesn't work. They've had helicopters, they have distributed free
money to their citizens, they have built bridges to nowhere and prices
are falling and look set to fall further. My fear just now is that the
community of risk is very short treasuries, and is very long risk: risk
assets are the hedge against inflation. Now if something untoward
happens, the gamma on that trade bankrupts you."

Link to the 2010 Russia Forum.

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tellsometruth's picture


The Patiot Act Provisions just FAILED TO GET PASSED ... the WH released a Statement that they would like a 3 YEAR EXTENTION!

btw anyone whatch this one on CSPAN Live??? I only heard one comment called in support of it on all 3 party lines ...


ps I got on air




Dr. Gonzo's picture

That's good news. Fuck the Patriot Act! Obama criticized it when he ran. Now he's in love with it more than Bush. 

Michael's picture

By a vote of 277-148, the House failed to pass the extension, needed 290(2/3) Yea votes to pass- click here for the roll call vote to see how your representative voted!  See list of traitors of our nation here.

Thanks again for all you've done, but remember, we can't let up pressure now. This won't be the last we've heard of the PATRIOT Act renewal in the House.


      H R 514      2/3 YEA-AND-NAY      8-Feb-2011      7:04 PM
      QUESTION:  On Motion to Suspend the Rules and Pass
      BILL TITLE: To extend expiring provisions of the USA PATRIOT Improvement and Reauthorization Act of 2005 and Intelligence Reform and Terrorism Prevention Act of 2004 relating to access to business records, individual terrorists as agents of foreign powers, and roving wiretaps until December 8, 2011

                  Yeas Nays NV
Republican 210  26        5
Democratic 67   122       4

Midas Mulligan's picture

Barney Frank voted "Nay" to let them expire. Barney, you finally got one right.

Shame on any "conservative" for voting to extend these extraordinary powers.

tellsometruth's picture

agreed my comments exactly on cspan

Michael's picture

1/3 Dem, 2/3 Rep Yea votes. That's a shameful bipartisan response for the dems.  

The Dem voters better get their asses on the phone and give  those 67 D votes an earful if they want to retain any credibility.

nmewn's picture

Gimme a T...gimme an E...gimme an A.

You know what that spells ;-)

"The vote came as several tea party-aligned members of the new freshman class had been expressing doubts about the measure."

Michael's picture

Just think about all the people who monitor the web traffic at the Fusion Centers, the NSA, programming people and companies who will be put out of business should the Non-Patriot Act go down in flames?

Mercury's picture

Without missing a paycheck they'll be re-employeed as Michelle's calorie counting crusaders.

quadcap's picture

You think they'll actually stop what they're doing even if the act isn't renewed?

We're past that point now, I'm pretty sure.  They don't need no stinking badges...


dark pools of soros's picture

above the law and above the budget

living on the edge's picture

Agreed, it will not stop some of the agencies but there will be some positive effects.

glenlloyd's picture

that's pretty much what I'm thinking too, some way they will continue on as they have, I can't think that they stop now.

This will go on, but it'll all be covered up. No one ever willingly gives up a portion of their power without 1) a big fight or 2) knowing that in reality they aren't giving up anything.


Michael's picture

"Front page on the politics page..... What a great picture and what a great story. I hope somebody will consider this front page material and put this photo embedded right above the story!..
Washington (CNN) - Will Ron Paul make another bid for the White House?
A senior adviser to the 12-term representative from Texas says it's a strong possibility.
"Congressman Paul is very pleased with his strong national organization and flattered by his growing national profile. He is strongly considering a presidential run and is assessing all of his political prospects," Paul Political Director Jesse Benton tells CNN.
An influential pro-family social conservative group in Iowa, the state that goes first in the presidential caucus and primary calendar, announced Monday that Paul accepted an invitation to speak next month at a presidential lecture series."

tellsometruth's picture

Ron Paul will be on Fox Biz Freedom Watch Tomorrow

lincolnsteffens's picture

I hate Freedom Watch. When is the Judge going to stop yelling his opinions. He sounds like Walter Winchell on steroids.

chumbawamba's picture

Don't diss Judge Napalitano!

If you're talking about someone who merely yelled their opinions, you must be thinking of Keith Olbermann.

I am Chumbawamba.

Kali's picture

What makes you think it will make any difference?  They will do what they want to do anyway.  Who will stop them?  We have such blatant fraud and corruption in government and business, no one stops that.  Laws are a farce in this country.  Unless you are a peon who steals a loaf of bread to feed the brats.  Then you go to jail.

tellsometruth's picture

reject apathy it on serves TPTB!

Kali's picture

Not apathy, reality.  Nothing is gonna change until the SHTF.

ehildret's picture

Citizens of Gotham (America) need a caped crusader- Batman!!

crazyjsmith's picture

The P Act was pushed through early needing a 2/3 vote to pass. 

This thing will get pushed through once again in a week or so, with only a majority needed, it will pass then. 

We can't think we won this battle, not with these crooks in office.  As we saw with the healthcare bill, they will keep pushing until it comes out of the other side, looking like a piece of e coli riddled sausage. 

midtowng's picture

It failed because Democrats voted against it.

bankrupt JPM buy silver's picture

I'm begining to think all people that talk in an English accent are idiots.  Especially on CNBC.

Sudden Debt's picture



mynhair's picture

Oil is sooooo yesterday. 

REEs, bitchez!

(Know I'm not first, but the repeat crap above doesn't count.  Fukking CNTL-V)


Reese Bobby's picture

Looks great. Um, why don't they have any revenues?

mynhair's picture

No revenues cuz they are all in development.  MCP is next year.  All current production comes from Chinee.

Blindweb's picture

Oil is the gateway resource for all other resources.  The higher the price of oil the less revenue for REE and PM miners. 

mynhair's picture

No REEs, no flat screens for the Welfare class.

bonddude's picture

here's some truth from Larry King about bank


bonddude's picture

PS hendry and I appeared to be wrong.

just treading water which is the way he basically sets himself.

B9K9's picture

Risk, you want risk? How about this?

WikiLeaks cables: Saudi Arabia cannot pump enough oil to keep a lid on prices US

Diplomat convinced by Saudi expert that reserves of world's biggest oil exporter have been overstated by nearly 40%

Paging Travis, Trav7777 to the white courtesy phone.

Michael's picture

Don't worry. The 22.5% unemployed won't be using much of it in the foreseeable future.

Flakmeister's picture

Oil, beechez....

but seriously

Let’s look at the data:

1) Recent storage data on tankers show that off-shore storage is about 60-80 m bbls. To put this number into context, it is about 1 day of demand or 2 days or net oil exports from producers.

2) Net Oil exports from producers peaked in 2005. There is simply less oil on the market. This chart is the tell:

3) Sometime in 2008, the forward oil curve went into contango for the first time. They was a lot of debate about what this implied. My take is that the smart money figured out that demand would be outstripping supply into the foreseeable future. In essence, it now trades like a currency.

4) Breakdown what is called oil into its real components

C+C, NGL, Other liquids

Now, generously give an EROEI of 6 on “other liquids”, in other words from an energy perspective multiply by 0.85, otherwise you double count the oil to produce the liquids.

NGL is 65% of the energy density of crude

Ignore Refinery Gains, that is simply increasing the volume for the same energy content…

And fold in existing fields are declining at 4.5% (CERA, IHS etc..) per annum and that new fields are barely keeping up.

The energy of Liquids production has been flat for 5 years.  

This is why oil is the alpha asset.

And I am plenty long precious metals as well.

bankrupt JPM buy silver's picture

You cant eat oil, but if shit really came down to it, I would eat the shit out of my shiney maples...yummy

The Axe's picture

forget oil...bonds about to get crushed,,,short TLT    what a move in the 2 and 10

mynhair's picture

Fuk Saudi.  Drill, Baby, Drill!

Especially drill those dumbass SINators' skulls.

Belrev's picture

There are places in Brazil, Russia and China where western person could feel quite comfortable, but the rest of these countries would be considered a tough place to live in for a used to modern comfort sissy European or North American.

mynhair's picture

Patagonia is sweet.  Bring dry wood.

philgramm's picture

Spent a couple of weeks hiking Torres Del Paine and ice hiking the glaciers near El Calafate. Truly a beautiful part of the world. 

CrashisOptimistic's picture

You guys still have not caught on.

This is not a matter of celebrating "getting it right" or sneering at a downtick in oil.

This is forever territory, folks.  There are no charts to show you recovery.  There will be no value to education.  There will be no economic policy that changes anything significant at all.

This is the ball game.  Oil gets scarce.  Someone doesn't eat.  That someone complains and that someone's leadership makes a choice: Appeal to the UN to take oil away from the US (we have 3% of population and consume 23% of global oil production) or try to bomb US cities, kill 10s of millions, and thereby cut US oil consumption.

Yes, folks.  THAT is what it means.  It's not a market issue.  It's death.

If you're an American, you have to sign on NOW to the concept of killing them before they come for us.  

mynhair's picture

How does someone that doesn't eat complain, and not become Soylent Green?

You quit driving yet, ya fukking Lib?

CrashisOptimistic's picture

Libs quit driving.  Americans get ready to eliminate competing consumption.  You ready?  I am.