2013 Year In Review

Tyler Durden's picture

Submitted by Adam Taggart via Peak Prosperity,

Every year, David Collum writes a detailed "Year in Review" synopsis full of keen perspective and plenty of wit. This year's is no exception. The 89-page tour-de-force is a must-read this holiday season for perspective on where we have been and where we are going. From Krugman to the abuse of civil liberties, from gold to muni bankruptices, and from Student debt bubble to Cyprus and beyond, Collum covers it all.


Why would anybody give a damn what an organic chemist thinks about investing, economics, and politics? I’m baffled. As a half-hearted defense, in over 34 years of investing with a decidedly lopsided portfolio, I have had only two years in which my total wealth decreased in nominal dollars. My 14-year return since 01/01/00 is 9% compounded with no leverage and no glass eye. (We all made money in the 90’s so I don’t even go there.)

Each review begins with a highly personalized account of my efforts to get through another year of investing, which is followed by an overview of 34 years of investing. I thought maybe I would drop the former, but I couldn’t because one of my two losing years was this year. Come again? You lost money this year? Yep, I’m the guy—an urban legend in the flesh. You cannot teach this kind of prowess. It was a very expensive year to be in the Church of Austrian Economics and Hard Assets. Thus, I must continue with the personal overview as a form of a trip to the confessional. The investing section may be instructive for those interested in my approach and for gold bulls on suicide watch. The bulk of the review, however, describes thoughts and observations—the year’s events told as a narrative. The links are copious, albeit not comprehensive. Some are flagged as highly recommended.

I try to avoid themes covered amply in my previous reviews. I won’t pick on the Roth IRA anymore (although I was right), and I’ve left resource depletion alone (it’s still a problem). Nonetheless, some gifts just keep on giving. Debt permeates all levels of society, demanding comment every year. Precious metals are a personal favorite. This year seems to be more about politics and less about economics. Sections entitled Baptists, Bankers, the Federal Reserve, and Bootleggers describe the players involved in the biggest battle since Frodo melted down the ring for beer money. Society is juiced on easy money, leaving some of us breathless. I finish with a book list that shaped my thinking.

Every year I have declared with an increasingly shrill voice now inaudible even to dogs that civil liberties must be protected at all costs and that we all should avoid using “conspiracy” as a pejorative term. Oh...my...God! Just as smartphones have put to rest the existence of Yeti, aliens, and the Loch Ness Monster, 2013 put to rest any claim that conspiracies do not exist. If you denounce conspiracy theories and conspiracy theorists to me, I will remind you of the quote from a 20th century philosopher:

“Everybody has a plan until they get punched in the face.”

~ Mike Tyson

The full review is below:


The contents are as follows:

    The Bear Case
    The Economy
    Broken Markets
    Debt and Retirement
    Municipal Debt
    Student Debt
    Bonds and Sovereign Debt
    Housing the Mortgage Markets
    Rest of the World
    The Fourth Estate
    CNBC–Rise Above
    Bankers and Finance
    Federal Reserve
    Paul Krugman
    Government Gone Wild
    Mr. Obama Goes to Washington
    Civil Liberties Part 1
    Civil Liberties Part 2: Edward Snowden versus the NSA



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Harbanger's picture

2013 in a nutshell,

NSA can keep spying
Snowden can keep whistling
You can keep Obamacare
Iran can keep their nukes.
Canadians can keep their johns

Thomas's picture

BTW-I did this interview as well 


and Thomas = Dave. (I fess up to this once per year.) 

Z_End's picture

I was wondering if that was you Thomas (Dr Dave)!

Hope you are well.


Scarlett's picture

The references, David. Any link to them?

Read it all in one sitting. Btw, awesome as always. Thank you so much.

Thomas's picture

I'm having trouble getting the hot link to work, but this is where the links are supposed to exist.


w a l k - a w a y's picture

Great writing, wit and truthiness. Also enjoyed seeing you in person on youtube.


All Risk No Reward's picture

Don't forget - you'll never be able to recognize if that person you know who disappeared or ended up did so at the request of the authoritarian US President or his financiers.

DaveyJones's picture

the interview with Martenson a couple years back was entertaining

El Vaquero's picture

I've read about 20 or 30 pages of that so far.  It's some good stuff.  

Midas's picture

Well, there goes my weekend.  Thanks anyway, Thomas!

Infinite QE's picture

Whatever became of Rasputin of WSB?

Thomas's picture

Wall Street Bear exists and is active. Rasputin undoubtedly changed his name again and is posting somewhere. Smart but at times troubled. I loved the old Bear Chat board when Doug Noland oversaw it. There were some amazing folks posting there--guys who became prominent bloggers (and were already prominent money managers). These were the proto-bears. 

Z_End's picture

Here Here! Long live John Randi!

Zero_Sum's picture

Thanks for this; it's a highlight of my holiday season. I print out hard copies for my library every year.

jcaz's picture

Brilliant piece of work...


Midas's picture

Who the hell is doing the downvoting?

Pegasus Muse's picture

Just finished reading your Year in Review. Great stuff. While the TBTP(prosecute) Federal Reserve/Wall Street Bankster crime syndicate is bad enough, it is the federal government's widespread attack on our civil liberties that is the most disturbing event of the year. Another conspiracy theory proven to be a conspiracy fact, thanks to Snowden. Glad you addressed it. Perhaps 2013 will be remembered as the year the Sheeple at long last realized the federal government has devolved to a Totalitarian STASI Police State.

“Any society that would give up a little liberty to gain a little security will deserve neither and lose both.” -- Benjamin Franklin

Absinthe Minded's picture

Just finished your work, absolutely spot on. Amazing you have the time to read that many books, I guess if I didn't golf I would be able as well. Got to have one vice, it clears my mind. It's great to have so many great minds here at ZH. I just hope it isn't deemed a militant site and shut down. Telling the truth is, unfortunately, not going to be legal for much longer.

I am Jobe's picture

You forgot Black Friday 

XitSam's picture

2013. Worse than 2012. Not nearly as bad as 2014.

Jannn's picture

Chinese gold demand now may exceed world mine production



Yen Cross's picture

    A Cornell 'professor of chemistry and chemical biology' probably has a better grasp on outcome, then those retarded alchemists over at Maiden Lane.

DaveyJones's picture

I always look for other disciplines chiming in. It seems logical that the best way to expose the insanity of the current system is intelligent foks from hard science looking in and saying WTF 

Yen Cross's picture

  @ DaveyJones  Especially when that discipline is the difference between life and death, as opposed to a campaign contribution...

  You're one of the smart eggs Davey. ;-)


Element's picture

Funny how for a week prior, several economiseds, on three continents, were talking-up 2014 as the re-recovery year, in the West, as a pre-quel and softening-up to derbanke's 10 billion taper baloney-sandwich. I don't believe one damn word of any of it. I expect the FED is hiding new trillions in debt agreements just like they did right after Lehman's collapsed. If the economy was really recovering there would be zero QE, but they dare not do that, or even to suggest it be done.

An that's how you tell if an economised is a complete charlatan and an establishment liar. They pretend QE to be a valid part of the market. It's a surefire way to know you're listening to a crook in the bankster's pocket.

And I see these lame-brained 'finance reporters', on ABC-24 for instance doing this all the time [OMG!] - complete idiots crooks and frauds. They are lieing their asses off, routinely, at taxpayer expense, in every quarter-past-the-hour laughable "market report", and these reporters ridiculously dippy explanations for the days market moves (I'm pretty sure these turgid cretins don't even realize they're dismal liars and idiots lol).

Hey, let's just forget that dire warning that was issued by the BIS itself in Dec 2012 of a worse crisis than even 2008 was already being baked-in due to the total lack of change in the behaviors of the big banks. The BIS didn't mean it! It was just a bankster in-gag, there's not really any problem, 2014 is going to be just awesome in the developed world.

Cue the dumb-money paper-trains.

Indeed Reggie's last post was spot-on, much worse is absolutely inevitable, and it can hit us at any time.

Ireland Exits Troika Bailout To Prepare For Bail-ins: Nothings Changed & Don't Believe Everything That You're Told

WillyGroper's picture

"It's Not A Lie If You Believe It"



Happy Festivus for the rest of us.

Balvan's picture


PrecipiceWatching's picture

A banner year for the Free Shit Army.

Clowns on Acid's picture

Not a bad rant by the Cornell Chemistry prof. Understanding chemistry helps him respect gravity. The Phd economists at the Fed think that Gravity is subjective....those bitchez  

greatbeard's picture

Well, I couldn't wade through the whole thing but I did make it though the part that most interested me, gold  Good read.  His is one of the few opinions I agree with.  Plus it's nice to see such a learned one get an ass thrashing like I did.  Somehow it takes the sting out a little.

Murf_DaSurf's picture




Gosh, I hope he won't have to sell the new house, there is still another year or so of this 'down is up' market to go!!


Great as always!

22winmag's picture

Boston Strong: Fake blood, fake bomb, fake suspects, fake cowboy.

ebworthen's picture

Hey, Boeing is up 80% in 2013 (yes, in one year despite battery fires and parts falling off) - along with equal or higher gains among other individual stocks.

Civil liberties down, pay down, labor participation rate down; cost of living up (no, you can't argue that).

"What's the problem?" many will say.

Yup, no problem until punch hits face.

It's as if 2008 never happened.

(or 2001, 1987...1932, 1929...)

Brazen Heist's picture

“Gold bugs are frequently jerks. This [drop] vindicates the economic ideas of the economic elites.”

~Joe Weisenthal,

Business Insider


Lets see how far your mafia rigged shit will last...mothefuckers!

greatbeard's picture

>> “Gold bugs are frequently jerks.

I would say no more so than society at large. And certainly less so than say bankers, or real estate developers or politicians.  Jerks are frequent in our society but concentrated in certain professions.

zipit's picture

I skimmed it.  Seems like a regurgutation of the past year's worth of ZeroHedge posts, distilled and repacked as his own, complete with LimrickKing quotes.  Basically seems like he spends his time on ZH and Fidelity instead of doing whatever it is his employer thinks its paying him to do.

Thomas's picture

At some level you are correct, but you only get part credit. Zerohedge does a marvelous job of catching all the news and the term "review" is, in my world, precisely that. It is a synthesis of the knowns into a narrative that takes an overview. If you track the links, you would indeed find alot of Zerohedge links. As to wasting my employer's time, that's a little unfair. There are approximately 6750 waking hours in my year (18x365), and I pretty much use all of them. Somehow salted within my full time efforts to repackage Zerohedge posts, I manage to run an active and, in my opinion, globally prominent research group, serve as department chair, teach, function as editor of a prominent scientific journal, consult with multiple big-cap pharma companies, and advise two club sports and a fraternity. In my more ambitious days, I assistant coached two collegiate sports and got my 3rd degree black belt in Tae Kwon Do. Because the entire thread is heading into the dusty archives, I am simply leaving this archival response for the web bots. 

JohnFrodo's picture

Fantastic year end review, really a triumph.

One of the reasons Zero Hedge has won <a href="http://thinkingaboot.blogspot.ca/2013/12/steves-year-in-review.html ">best Conspiracy blog of 2013.</a>

Spanky's picture

Thank you... well done.