Dude: Settle the F%$# Down

My reputation over the past few years — fairly or unfairly — has been that of a Bear.

However, even I want to tell Barton Biggs to settle the f#$% down. Dude, spark up a fatty, and chill out. You are scaring the natives.

What’s this about?

Biggs recently published another book, and it sounds a bit like the typical paranoic survivalist tomes:

"Barton Biggs has some offbeat advice for the rich: Insure yourself against war and disaster by buying a remote farm or ranch and stocking it with "seed, fertilizer, canned food, wine, medicine, clothes, etc.”

The "etc.” must mean guns.

"A few rounds over the approaching brigands’ heads would probably be a compelling persuader that there are easier farms to pillage,” he writes in his new book, "Wealth, War and Wisdom.”

We hardly get to cite Biggs here at the TBP — an alliterative mention in 2004 (Barton Biggs Better Begin Browsing Blogs . . .), when he disasterously shorted Crude Oil in the high $40s (good times), and a mention of his last book is most of our Biggs coverage.

As to Hedgehogging, I must admit to being I was underwhelmed by it. It was marginally interesting in a gossipy kinda way, but I lost interest about half way through.

I haven’t seen this book yet, but I admit I am fascinated by the subject. I am not a big believer in either the efficient market hypothesis nor the Wisdom of Crowds — future discounting mechanism yes, but wisdom? Hardly — but I do find the subjects intriguing and worthy of further discussion.

War, markets, contrary indicators — "Buy at the sound of cannons, sell at the sound of trumpets" kinda thing is right up my alley. I may have to check this one out . . .


Biggs’s Tips for Rich: Expect War, Study Blitz, Mind Markets   
James Pressley
Bloomberg, Jan. 30 2008

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What's been said:

Discussions found on the web:
  1. Grodge commented on Jan 30

    When Kudlow puts Biggs in the Brady Bunch box and agrees with him… that’s the buy signal.

    And it will happen eventually, so keep some powder dry.

  2. Bud commented on Jan 30

    Buying remote land etc. as safety net isn’t that crazy given the soaring price of oil. Attend a few of investment banker Matthew Simmons’ lectures – he is a billionaire and has done extensive research on the subject of peak oil

  3. Howard Veit commented on Jan 30

    If the Democrats sweep, an increasingly possible situation, they are going after everyone they decide has “too much” money. I know I ain’t rich but I have a few ounces of gold on deposit in Switzerland and a few things going in other countries (in a very small way). You are a dreamer if you don’t take Charlie Rangel at his word: Your money is his.

  4. Chief Tomahawk commented on Jan 30

    Hey, I thought we were all supposed to be accumulating piles of Yen…

  5. odograph commented on Jan 30

    There are people scattered about the US who went to ground decades ago, sure some collapse or other was coming. I do see Peak Oil as a problem, but it’s kind of disconcerting when those old survivalists pop up, looking for something to validate their decades-old move. I’ve seen some do that … show up for Y2K or now PO.

    Chances are we’ll work through this problem too, though it might take a little more adjustment for PO than for Y2K.

  6. dark1p commented on Jan 30

    Ummm, Howard, stop watching so much Fox News. Your brain is melting.

    As for Biggs, his advice is in sync with Proctor and the Elliott Wavers (nice name for a 60s band). If times get as bad as they’re expecting, social unrest is going to be at a level we’ve never seen. Imagine the Great Depression squared without the behavioral restraints of the 30s.

    By the way, EWs also say that this will be an extremely socially conservative time in other respects, and that dictatorial government is more likely. Somehow, that seems like Republicans in power, but who knows….

  7. sergei commented on Jan 30

    Dominican Republic villa is looking better and better to MHO

  8. druce commented on Jan 30

    anyone remember Barton Biggs talking about a stock market melt-up back in the fall of 2007?

    Or Prechter talking about end times circa 1990?

    nobody knows nothin’.

    And if you think the economic royalist wing of the GOP doesn’t think your money is theirs, just like Charlie Rangel does… or that guys like Greenspan, Bernanke, John Snow, Paul O’Neill are any more competent than guys like Rubin and Summers, you’re dreamin’.

  9. Marcus Aurelius commented on Jan 30

    Posted by: Howard Veit | Jan 30, 2008 8:10:24 AM


    I’m willing to bet your gold and overseas investments were purchased during the past 7 years. After what we’ve witnessed during that time, I don’t see the Dems being such a threat to your wealth. When we have social breakdown, it won’t matter who is in power – the needs of the masses will trump your ability to hold wealth – regardless who, if anyone, is in charge.


  10. Ross commented on Jan 30

    Actually Barton Biggs is not that far off the mark. Investment wise, farm land is appreciating very nicely, thank you, and seed and fertilizer are in somewhat short supply.

    We have a 500 gallon diesel tank to avoid State road taxes and a few beef critters mixed in with the horses. I guess I didn’t know I was a survivalist, just making prudent investment decisions.

    This IS a replay of the 70’s with subtle changes in variables but the outcome will be the same. Expact many more books like this. The ‘hoarding’ phase has yet to begin. We will no doubt enact anti hoarding laws.

    I have no strong opinion about peak oil. Seems to me that price determines supply but idiots make laws that screw up the balance of nature. Interesting future decision. Do you want to eat your corn/sugar or pour it in your gas tank?

    Sign of the times? Had a family who stopped by to see if I would rent them an acre plot next to the Farm to Market road. They want to start a truck garden. Who is it that makes canning lids? Ah, Ball Corp.

  11. chris commented on Jan 30

    Amongst the first in line economists who work at the IBs who will profit from the Greenspan Put is Roach whose name fortunately goes better with the “light up a fatty” line of lighten it up thought. I remember Forbes, once a fine business magazine, featured Biggs in an early 90s piece saying with Clinton in charge the U. S. economy will tank, he isn’t buying U. S. stocks.

    I read Hedgehogging too. It was supposed to be a reveal the mysteries book, but it only revealed a bit of garter belt for men’s socks. All I remember were the charts at the end of where different investment vehicles made their money, the top 20% of venture capital made 80% of the returns and within that the top 2% made, and so on.

    Survivalist style, he also advocated buying jewelry as the ultimate hedge for when you’re trying to flee a country and need to bribe the local border police.

    Within that, I don’t believe that the first impetus of all American agencies is to protect Americans. Look at Cheney and the 2001 CIA warnings for example.

  12. Justin commented on Jan 30

    I’m sitting on the S.C. coast, with moon-shine and sunshine. Bring it on! Hheehee

  13. Joe commented on Jan 30

    Peak Oil is junk science.

  14. nick power commented on Jan 30

    Farmland and Gold . . . Sounds good to me. Why don’t you compare that portfolio with yours 1yr 5 yrs and 20 yrs out and see who did better.

  15. chris commented on Jan 30

    Peak oil is basic geology.

    So all science is junk?

  16. Mr. Obvious commented on Jan 30

    Dude, we haven’t had a good TEOTWAWKI outbreak since Clinton and Y2K and all the righties stocking TP, guns and ammo thinking the world was going to end soon.

    I always chuckle at the same jokers who stock gold coins for such an event. May just be me, but I’d rather have food and wine than a shiny piece of metal.

  17. Winston Munn commented on Jan 30

    Joe wrote, “Peak Oil is junk science.”

    Let me take a wild guess, here – Intelligent Design is cutting edge science?

  18. The Dirty Mac commented on Jan 30

    “Peak oil is basic geology.”

    The there’s basic economics. At a certain price level, extraction of oil from tar sands and shale become profitable enterprises. We are running out of the inexpensively extracted oil. The more expensive oil is there and may become less expensive as technology improves. Whether the higher price results in economic feasibility of substitute fuels is the $64 question.

  19. Bob A commented on Jan 30

    So you’re this flabby old guy, sitting in your luxury villa on your nice cushy “farm”, drinking your wine, eating your frozen Omaha steaks, and passing your days counting your gold coins.

    Surrounded by tens of thousands of starving hungry ordinary Nascar type folk with rifles and shotguns who’ve been watching WWF and hunting all their lives. How long do you think that’s gonna last?

  20. The Dirty Mac commented on Jan 30

    “Intelligent Design is cutting edge science?”

    Commodities can be rationed by price. Superstition is available in unlimited amounts free of charge.

  21. The Jersey Bull commented on Jan 30

    “The there’s basic economics. At a certain price level, extraction of oil from tar sands and shale become profitable enterprises. We are running out of the inexpensively extracted oil. The more expensive oil is there and may become less expensive as technology improves. Whether the higher price results in economic feasibility of substitute fuels is the $64 question.”

    At what point does it take more in energy cost to extract the oil than its worth?

  22. Bud commented on Jan 30

    “Peak oil is junk science”

    Joe, funny how you have no facts to back it up. Mr. Simmons, a conservative republican, made a fortune doing oil M&As. His hard core data research convinces me that supply is plateauing as India & China ramp up the middle class and cars for everyone. Look at the facts. All this baloney about price and supply. When price goes through the roof things change so keep exercising b/c we might be using bicycles.

  23. Ross commented on Jan 30

    Bob A, damn, I forgot to dig a moat. Actually the Nascar types work for me part time and I always share. You can always use a posse on the Pondorosa.

  24. Marcus Aurelius commented on Jan 30

    When push comes to shove shiny piece of metal will buy you food and wine (unless it gets as bad as the fall of Constantinople. In that case, nothing can save you). You have dollars? Cool! Throw them on the fire! BWahahahaahaha!

  25. Vermont Trader.. commented on Jan 30

    Well I live on a “remote farm” in Northern Vermont that has been in my family for a long time.

    There is nothing glamorous about farming. It involves daily physical work that is brutally hard. My grandmother said that the day they sold the herd was the best day of her life. To put it bluntly, Mr. Biggs is too old for farming. It would literaly kill him.

    My advice to him if he is woried about armagedon is to adopt or sire as many sons as possible. Then they can farm or work for him. This is the worlds oldest safety net.

  26. Stuart commented on Jan 30

    They took the shiny metal down pretty good thought shortly after NY open. $12 in about 20 mintues.

  27. Marcus Aurelius commented on Jan 30

    $12 in a matter of minutes? You don’t say? Somebody needs cash to cover their market losses. At this point, a $50 drop wouldn’t worry me. A $100 drop would put me in a real buying mood. A drop to $600 would probably make me sell.

    You all worried ’bout my shiny metal, when you should be worried ’bout yo’ dirty ol’ paper.

  28. KP commented on Jan 30

    The tar sands and other non-stick-a-pipe-in-the-ground-and-sit-back-and-watch-the oil-come-flooding-out-oil is that it is subject to ever increasing positive input cost feedback loops. In order to make all of these projects viable you need…cheap oil. Something which don’t have much of in a short-term crisis or a REAL crisis. Unfortunately these are the only two times we care enough to explore these alternate sources. Short term thinking has gotten us here and it’s going to finish us off if we can’t learn to look further down the road.

  29. Roger Thatchery commented on Jan 30

    At this point gold bashers should just shut up. You have been routed. And it’s only gonna get worse. It was amusing to read the sneering comments up to about the $500 level, which was a double.

    In 2010 condescending tech stock lovin’ yuppies will be pulling the gold fillings out of their heads with pliers.

  30. Kp commented on Jan 30

    Also, Peak Oil may or may not be here(or just past us). With the big oil gauge in the sky broken there is no way to know how long we’ve got. But we do all know the consequences of being caught unprepared for the one of most dramatic changes in the way we live our lives that I can personally fathom. Life without oil. Just knowing that it is a REAL possibility should be more than enough to motivate serious effort into developing a plan B,C,D,E,F,etc.

  31. wunsacon commented on Jan 30

    Ben Bittrolff, personally, although those charts show amazing spikes (down/up), I don’t know how to interpret them…

  32. Marcus Aurelius commented on Jan 30

    Plan B is involuntary population reduction.

  33. ZackAttack commented on Jan 30

    Wunsacon, those charts seem to me to mean that the TAF is what’s keeping a number of banks in the game right now.

  34. wunsacon commented on Jan 30

    Ben Bittrolff, never mind. Your article answers all the questions I had. Good post. Thanks.

  35. tele commented on Jan 30

    Nothing is more disturbing than an old-white-guy saying “Dude. “Spark Up A Fatty”

  36. Marcus Aurelius commented on Jan 30

    Nothing, other than, “Dude, we caught you lighting up a fatty, and now you’re going to jail…”


  37. Street Creds commented on Jan 30

    Cheap oil is gone,gone, gone. Those new wells in Gulf are about five miles down. The oil is more like asphalt, and it takes big money to pump, and refine it. Get used to three figure oil. Or walk.

  38. anon commented on Jan 30

    Biggs and the rich folks don’t need to worry about brigands. The government will take their money through taxes, and since the US government taxes citizens based on worldwide income and assets, running won’t help. Even if you renounce citizenship.

    Biggs can hide out with a shotgun, but that won’t fend off the IRS. People have tried that, but IRS criminal enforcement wins.

  39. Greg0658 commented on Jan 30

    remember the Davidians and Ruby Ridge
    Hotel California folks

    superstition creation faith science evolution complex itelligent design

    do unto other as you wish done unto you
    do unto others before they get you

    Triumph’s “Hold On”
    intelligent design coming for science
    intelligent design coming for/after religion

    fish aquarium looks like the glass needs cleaning, rocks getting mucky
    which dimension is gonna care

  40. donna commented on Jan 30

    We can kill the rich, but we can’t actually eat them.

    They taste bad. Really bad.

  41. Steve commented on Jan 30

    Donna — that’s because they’re all sinewy and plastic-y these days. I miss the old fat rich, who were nicely marbled like a USDA Prime ribeye….

    Also — am I goofy for opting to buy my suburban shack just two blocks from a commuter train station? I mean, they should be able to keep THOSE running after oil, right?

  42. Al Czervik commented on Jan 30


    Let’s just say that they’re an aquired taste.

  43. Mike G commented on Jan 30

    I recall when Biggs declared he was “maximum bullish” on China in 1994 just as it began a multi-year decline.

    The Economist called his prediction “maximum bullshit”.

  44. Eric Davis commented on Jan 30

    I’m not in the armageddon crowd, But the rich do know that Mullet headed hicks shoot better, and have better weapons right?

    It would be best for them to go for the Underground Vault.

    Seems like they will create a solid base camp for the brigands.

    Nothing like Laissez-faire social order.

    Return of the Physiocrats….

  45. dan in michigan commented on Jan 30

    One of the best commodity investments over the last 5 years was ammunition.

  46. Pat Gorup commented on Jan 30

    “Dude, spark up a fatty”

    What’s a fatty? And how do you know?

  47. b commented on Jan 30

    If writing books keeps Barton away from trading the markets, I’m all for it!

    The only thing more underwhelming than an investment book by Biggs is probably shares in his hedge fund!

  48. The Dirty Mac commented on Jan 30

    Howard Ruff is still publishing his newsletter.

  49. Tom commented on Jan 31

    Look for secession movements to increase in popularity especially in the South West, rich in natural resources.

  50. Steve commented on Jan 31

    The southwest is rich in natural resources? Like water!?!?!?!?

  51. Tom commented on Jan 31

    We conserve, unlike Georgia and the Southeast.

  52. Chuck commented on Feb 9

    If I was wandering around the outback after the Big Crash, and someone from a nice looking ranch fired a few shots over my head upon approach, I’d think to my self,
    “Hummmm, these dudes MUST have something worth keeping. I’ll go get a group of idiots to lead and have them attack and take it over. I’ll bring up the rear and everyone who survives gets an equal share. One for you, One for me, One for the other you, One for me, repeat as necessary.”

    Then let’s stock up their Hummers with lots of gas and go looking for the next ranch.

    A better method is to not shoot OVER their heads.

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