Transcending Politics

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Journal of a Wayward Philosopher
Transcending Politics

October 20, 2016
Hot Springs, VA

Just as the technology of printing altered and reduced the power of medieval guilds and the social power structure, so too will cryptologic methods fundamentally alter the nature of corporations and of government interference in economic transactions… And just as a seemingly minor invention like barbed wire made possible the fencing-off of vast ranches and farms, thus altering forever the concepts of land and property rights in the frontier West, so too will the seemingly minor discovery out of an arcane branch of mathematics come to be the wire clippers which dismantle the barbed wire around intellectual property. Arise, you have nothing to lose but your barbed wire fences!” – Timothy C. May

The S&P closed out Wednesday at $2,144. Gold closed at $1,270 per ounce. Crude Oil closed at $51.72 per barrel, and the 10-year Treasury rate closed at 1.75%. Bitcoin is trading around $630 per BTC today.

Dear Journal,

Today is little Maddie’s birthday! I still remember, two years ago to the day, witnessing her first breath of life. I can see it in my mind’s eye just a clearly as I see the computer screen in front of me. She has become a fantastically sweet and clever young lady in two years time, and her father’s cup runneth over with pride and joy.

Due to scheduling constraints, we actually celebrated her birthday on Tuesday. A few months back I asked Madison what she wanted to do for her birthday. “I want to ride Leo the horse!”, she responded without hesitation. So that’s exactly what we did. Continue reading “Transcending Politics”

The Only Debate Topic That Matters

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Journal of a Wayward Philosopher
The Only Debate Topic That Matters

September 29, 2016
Hot Springs, VA

Loading up the nation with debt and leaving it for the following generations to pay is morally irresponsible. Excessive debt is a means by which governments oppress the people and waste their substance. No nation has a right to contract debt for periods longer than the majority contracting it can expect to live. ” – Thomas Jefferson

The S&P closed out Wednesday at $2,171. Gold closed at $1,327 per ounce. Crude Oil closed at $47.12 per barrel, and the 10-year Treasury rate closed at 1.57%. Bitcoin is trading around $605 per BTC today.

Dear Journal,

Nearly one-third of all Americans – almost 100 million people – tuned in to watch the first presidential debate earlier this week. This represents an increase in viewership by nearly 40% from the 2012 presidential debates, and it almost rivaled television’s biggest draw – the Super Bowl – which received 112 million viewers last year. Apparently the debate was aired on television throughout Europe as well.

I see these numbers and the first thing that pops into my head is a question: how in the world do the ratings agencies know how many people are sitting on the couch in front of a given television?

I didn’t spend too much time with this, but all of the numbers I have seen reference “viewers” and “people”, not “households”. They are very specific about this.

I can’t help but think about poor Winston in George Orwell’s 1984 – he sits down in front of his telescreen and while he is watching it, it is also watching him… Continue reading “The Only Debate Topic That Matters”

The Zenconomics Report August Issue

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Journal of a Wayward Philosopher
Zenconomics Report August Dispatch

August 31, 2016
Hot Springs, VA

The S&P closed out Tuesday at $2,176. Gold closed at $1,314 per ounce. Crude Oil closed at $46.42 per barrel, and the 10-year Treasury rate closed at 1.57%. Bitcoin is trading around $573 per BTC today.

Dear Journal,

The August issue of the Zenconomics Report has gone out to members of our network. In this issue:

Low trading volumes and little volatility in the financial markets this month… The state of the sovereign debt markets… Two large banks pass on negative interest rates to clients… The latest on monetary-financed fiscal programs in Japan… Global investment demand for gold the highest on record for the first half of 2016… All eyes on the Federal Reserve next month… A quiet change to IMF’s special drawing right currency… A correction hits the gold stocks sector… the Zenconomics Report Model Portfolio updates… Two new additions to our model portfolio

This month we added two new positions to our model portfolio which is constructed according to the Beta Investment Strategy. This portfolio is designed to capitalize on the prominent macro trends in the world of finance, and it is built to be fluid and flexible when trends change.

The Zenconomics Report is 100% independent, and all opinions are our own. It is also 100% free, though it is only available to members of our network. For access, simply sign-up using the form below or at http://www.zenconomics.com/report.

New members receive access to all previous monthly issues, and we will also send you two free reports as a ‘thank you’ for subscribing.

Assess, Mitigate, Implement, and Prosper is a report detailing the concept and implementation of asset allocation. Asset allocation is about strategically spreading your capital out across several different asset classes, and it is a critical part of the Beta Investment Strategy. This report also covers the ins-and-outs of managing an investment portfolio, including the risk management techniques that everyone should understand before putting a dime into the stock market.

The Zenconomics Guide to the Information Age is a 28 page report covering money, commerce, jobs, Bitcoin wallets, peer-to-peer lending, Open Bazaar, freelancing, educational resources, mutual aid societies, the Infinite Banking Concept, peer-to-peer travel, Internet privacy, and numerous other Information Age tips and tricks with an eye on the future. This guide is designed to be very practical – each section is loaded with action items – but it is also written to be entertaining as well.

To financial freedom!






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The Zenconomics Report July Issue

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Journal of a Wayward Philosopher
Zenconomics Report July Dispatch

July 28, 2016
Hot Springs, VA

The S&P closed out Wednesday at $2,166. Gold closed at $1,348 per ounce. Crude Oil closed at $42.00 per barrel, and the 10-year Treasury rate closed at 1.51%. Bitcoin is trading around $657 per BTC today.

Dear Journal,

The July issue of the Zenconomics Report has gone out to members of our network. In this issue:

The state of the sovereign debt markets… Negative interest rates come to Canada… Japan’s new “stimulus” announcement… the ECB may soon expand its QE program… Capital flight into U.S. markets… Alan Greenspan publicly endorses a return to the gold standard… Brexit updates… How to build a small fortune in 3-5 years… the Zenconomics Report Model Portfolio updates

Our model portfolio is off to a good start, and we added one additional position this month. The model portfolio is constructed according to the Beta Investment Strategy, and we have several other positions on our radar currently. Frankly, we expect this portfolio to skyrocket over the coming years as debt continues to build and negative interest rates continue to spread.

The Zenconomics Report is 100% independent, and all opinions are our own. It is also 100% free, though it is only available to members of our network. For access, simply sign-up using the form below.

We will also send you two free reports as a ‘thank you’ for subscribing.

Assess, Mitigate, Implement, and Prosper is a report detailing the concept and implementation of asset allocation.

The Zenconomics Guide to the Information Age is a 28 page report covering money, commerce, jobs, Bitcoin wallets, peer-to-peer lending, Open Bazaar, freelancing, educational resources, mutual aid societies, the Infinite Banking Concept, peer-to-peer travel, Internet privacy, and numerous other Information Age tips and tricks with an eye on the future.

To financial freedom!

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All of the concepts presented in this course are rooted in a fundamental understanding of money, economics, and current macroeconomic trends based upon years of independent research. These concepts are more than abstract theory, however; they are the strategies used by the instructor to build a sustainable asset portfolio and quit his job within five years time.

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The Three Debt Bombs of 2016

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Journal of a Wayward Philosopher
The Three Debt Bombs of 2016

December 29, 2015
Hot Springs, VA

The S&P closed out Monday at $2,056. Gold closed at $1,068 per ounce. Crude Oil closed at $36.81 per barrel, and the 10-year Treasury rate closed at 2.23%. Bitcoin is trading around $428 per BTC today.

Dear Journal,

Happy holidays and a belated Merry Christmas to you! We had quite the festive Christmas here at the Withrow Estate, but we are gearing down now. The family has dispersed, the gifts have been assimilated, the eggnog has run dry, and only the Christmas tree has survived wife Rachel’s de-decoration spree. In fact, the tree only survived thanks to your editor’s steadfast resistance.

Like the last of the Lighthouse Keepers, I diligently rise to light the tree first thing each morning – unwilling to abandon my responsibility in lieu of Christmas day’s passing. When the evening finds little Madison and wife Rachel sound asleep, I somberly extinguish the lights knowing full-well that the Christmas tree’s days are numbered.

Moving my gaze from this wonderful holiday season over to the financial markets: the financial press is celebrating the Fed’s 0.25% rate hike as an act of wisdom and prudence. The Federal Reserve has announced that they will carry out such a 0.25% rate hike four times per year for the next four years in an effort to get back to a more “normal” interest rate environment. Though the pundits will cheer this on as sensible, the likelihood of such a centrally planned endeavor coming to fruition is slim-to-none.

The purpose of the financial markets – and all markets – is price discovery. Prices are not something to be “fixed” by a higher authority; they are instead the result of countless individual actors in the market place. Prices form as buyers and sellers determine where they can agree to get the deal done. Continue reading “The Three Debt Bombs of 2016”

Awareness Rising

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Journal of a Wayward Philosopher
Awareness Rising

September 25, 2015
Emerald Isle, NC

The S&P closed out Thursday at $1,932. Gold closed at $1,153 per ounce. Oil closed at $44.91 per barrel, and the 10-year Treasury rate closed at 2.14%. Bitcoin is trading around $236 per BTC today.

Dear Journal,

Little Maddie took her first unassisted steps this week. Your editor was quietly observing from the glider as she crawled around the back deck, carefully inspecting each nook and cranny in the wood. Suddenly, without warning, her little head popped up and she looked directly at me. There was a strange twinkle in her eyes that I had not seen before. It was almost as though she had just experienced a moment of infinite intelligence, but before I could reckon on it she stood up completely unassisted for the first time and took two steps before easing to her knees. She popped right back up and took three more steps before easing back down to her knees again. Then she looked up at me and laughed hysterically.

I had never before experienced the feeling of unbridled joy that overcame me in that moment.

Later, with Madison calmly napping, I had time to internalize the moment and bask in the joy. As I watched my little angel sleeping peacefully, a strange thought came to me.

If you are going to have highs, know you will also have lows. There are no ordinary moments.

I decided then to cherish every single moment with my little girl. Even when she wants me to read Brown Bear, Brown Bear, What Do You See to her for the thirteenth time. Even when she is screaming at me from the car seat because she is tired of being couped up. I will cherish it all.

Though I vow to cherish each moment of little Madison’s childhood, I am filled with hope and optimism for her future. I marvel at the opportunities that lay in front of her, and the rest of her generation. Generation Next is the first generation in centuries to arrive on this planet precisely as technological advancement is coalescing with a rising Awareness of human potential. Continue reading “Awareness Rising”

Becoming Antifragile

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Journal of a Wayward Philosopher
Becoming Antifragile

September 16, 2015
Hot Springs, VA

The S&P closed out Tuesday at $1,970. Gold closed at $1,102 per ounce. Oil closed at $44.59 per barrel, and the 10-year Treasury rate closed at 2.18%. Bitcoin is trading around $227 per BTC today.

Dear Journal,

Wife Rachel cornered me the other day: “I saw what you did in your newest post!”, she said in an accusatory tone.

“Whatever do you mean, honey?”, I asked innocently.

“You talked about Madison buying me a walker when I am old!”

I couldn’t contain my laughter. It’s the little things that I find most amusing.

Last week I delved into global finance and speculated that a currency crisis in the U.S. was on the horizon. It is just unreasonable to create trillions of dollars from thin air on a regular basis and expect the world to accept those dollars ad infinitum. I observed that government has no intention of ceasing its monetary escapades, thus currency ruin is inevitable. Continue reading “Becoming Antifragile”

How I Escaped the Rat-Race

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Journal of a Wayward Philosopher
How I Escaped the Rat-Race

May 28, 2015
Hot Springs, VA

The S&P closed out Wednesday at $2,123 – almost exactly where it was at the same time last week. Gold closed at $1,186 per ounce yesterday. Oil checked out at $57 per barrel. The 10-year Treasury rate closed at 2.13%, and bitcoin is trading around $238 per BTC.

Dear Journal,

We are back in the serene mountains of Virginia after a week spent on the gorgeous Carolina coast. Madison’s first beach trip was a success and we enjoyed five consecutive days of low 80’s with a cool breeze. Your editor even squeezed in a half-day fishing trip towards the end of the week after building up Dad points by handling Maddie’s late morning nap time indoors for the first several days so Momma could lay in the sand.

Last week I shared with you my view of the coming monetary crisis and I promised to expand upon what I have done to prepare for it and how I managed to escape the rat-race in the process.

Career is often one of the first items up for discussion when catching up with friends. You know the process: “What are you doing now? How’s that going? Do you like it?”

I find that very few friends tell me they like their job. Most say it is okay or tolerable. Some say they are miserable for one reason or another. Even the ones who say their job is tolerable express a certain sense of anxiety on Sunday afternoons as they look forward to the grind starting back up for another week.

Despite this, most people become addicted to their paycheck because they fashion their lifestyle accordingly. A couple things tend to happen when the paycheck gets bigger: the house gets bigger, the car gets nicer, and the hobbies become a little more luxurious. The problem is many of these things come with monthly payments. The big house comes with a big mortgage and strong HOA dues. The nice car comes with a big car payment and probably a satellite radio subscription. The luxury hobbies might include membership fees of various kinds: country clubs, golf courses, dinner clubs, mega-gyms, etc.

Now there is nothing wrong with any of this unless your goal is to escape the rat-race. If so, you need your paycheck to maximize capital rather than support your lifestyle. The following is the abbreviated version of how I went about maximizing capital so I could leave the rat-race in the dust.

My first step was mental: I crafted a vision of living outside the rat-race as I became more disillusioned with corporate America. I had been working in the corporate banking world for several years by this point and I had worked my way up to a comfortable salary relative to my circumstances. I was contributing the standard 3% match rate to my 401(k) and I was maxing out my self-driven IRA each year as I had been educated to do so I had a decent financial cushion to start with.

I created a spreadsheet to track my monthly expenses and pretty soon I was able to trim the fat and start saving 75% of my net income each month. I didn’t become cheap for its own sake – I still took my fiancé (now wife) out to dinner every Friday – but I did stop all frivolous spending. Though I couldn’t see far enough ahead to envision my day of liberation, I did know that I would be able to break the employment chains in the near future if I amassed a decent pool of working capital.

As my knowledge of Austrian economics grew, so did my appreciation for the precious metals. I began to make periodic trips to the local coin shop to redirect some of my monthly savings into gold and silver bullion. I didn’t originally have an asset allocation model in place so my purchases were somewhat sporadic but I did accumulate a (relatively speaking) decent precious metals base over the course of a year.

Austrian economics also helped me see how the housing bubble was being partially re-inflated by the Fed’s quantitative easing (QE) and zero interest rate policy (ZIRP). Private equity firms like Blackstone and American Homes 4 Rent (AH4R) were taking advantage of this easy money to buy up huge quantities of single family homes in the U.S. to build their rental real estate portfolios. These private equity companies were taking the Fed’s cheap credit at near-zero rates to buy middle class homes which they rented back out to the middle class with a huge profit margin built in. Now there is nothing wrong with reaping huge profits as long as they are honestly gained but there is a major problem with a system that distorts the market economy in favor of special interest groups.

I was bothered by what was going on in the housing market but I also understood that I was powerless to change it. Therefore I did the next best thing – I took advantage of the situation and sold my home to AH4R for a sizable gain. Some of that gain went to pay the real estate agent’s commission and I rolled the rest into a down payment on a 5-acre rural property at the end of a gravel road way up in the mountains which is where I reside today.

My goal for our mountain home was to make it as resilient as possible such that we could be totally self-sufficient for at least six months should hard times befall us. I don’t have room in this entry to go into the specifics, but we accomplished this by securing surplus water, food, provisions, and energy sources. The end result is that I am confident in my household’s ability to be self-sufficient for at least six months should the need arise which means our livelihood is not solely dependent upon consistent monthly income. The cost to maintain this self-sufficiency is pretty negligible after the initial purchases are made.

It took me roughly six months to complete these base self-sufficiency preparations and then it was time to hone in on my finances. I set up a spreadsheet to monitor my asset allocation model and I established the initial allocation ratios: 29.5% cash, 10% precious metals, 15% stocks, 0.5% bitcoin, and 45% real estate.

I was already in excess of my cash and real estate allocation because of my 75% savings habit and my 20% down payment on our 5-acre property so I used the excess cash outside of my IBC policy to bring the precious metals, stocks, and bitcoin allocations up to par.

All the while I was researching how to build location-independent income streams online in my spare time. There are more entrepreneurial opportunities today than ever before in modern history. Thanks to the internet anyone can reach millions of prospective customers with just the click of a button and there are very few barriers to entry. This means all you need to be an entrepreneur is a product that provides value to people in some capacity and a basic understanding of online marketing techniques. It requires very little capital to launch these types of products. More importantly, you can launch these products without needing to obtain permission from the government first in the form of certifications and licenses. In comparison, try to start a traditional brick & mortar business without government permission and see how that experience goes.

So to recap:

• I invested in my own education first by developing a strong understanding of Austrian free market economics.
• I purchased a rural 5 acre property with advantageous financing.
• I made ample water, food, energy, and provision preparations so as to be self-sufficient on this property for at least six months should the need arise.
• I shored up my asset allocation model to spread my capital across several asset classes: cash, precious metals, stocks, bitcoin, and real estate.
• I began to build location-independent income streams online.

I have an entire chapter dedicated to the specifics involved in this process in the 2nd edition of The Individual is Rising which I hope to launch later this summer. I will keep you posted as that progresses.

I will sum up this entry by repeating a common theme here at Zenconomics: life is meant to be lived.

It is up to you to make your life exciting and meaningful – no one else will do it for you. This requires a break from Modernity which emphasizes a fear & control mindset intended to put life in a box and stomp out any potential randomness before it happens. We are all conditioned to live within Modernity’s box so it is difficult to step outside and blaze your own path. But your life may depend on doing just that.

More to come,

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Joe Withrow
Wayward Philosopher

For more of Joe’s thoughts on the “Great Reset” and creating diversified income streams please read “The Individual is Rising: 2nd addition” which will be available later this year. Please sign up for the notifications mailing list at http://www.theindividualisrising.com/.

Individual Solutions: Building Financial Resiliency

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Journal of a Wayward Philosopher
Individual Solutions: Building Financial Resiliency

February 12, 2015
Hot Springs, VA

The S&P opened at $2,071 today. Gold is down to $1,226 per ounce. Oil is floating around $49 per barrel. Bitcoin is hanging around $221 per BTC, and the 10-year Treasury rate opened at 2.03% today.

Ten central banks have cut interest rates so far in 2015. The list includes: Australia, Canada, China, Denmark, India, Egypt, Pakistan, Peru, Russia, and Turkey. Additionally, both the Bank of Japan and the European Central Bank are actively buying sovereign debt… with counterfeited currency created from thin air. The Federal Reserve is taking a break from this exercise after nearly six years of creating currency to shop at the U.S. Treasury and go yard-saling on Wall Street. Of course the $4.5 trillion worth of sovereign debt and mortgage-backed securities still sits on the Fed’s balance sheet in the interim.

All of this economic intervention is a concerted effort to stave off a major credit contraction. The central bankers talk about hitting certain GDP and unemployment rate metrics but that is all part of their dog and pony show. If creating currency out of thin air could actually grow an economy and create jobs then we would already live in a utopian paradise. But that’s just not how the world works.

Try as they may to avoid it, the coming credit contraction is inevitable. You see, the global monetary system has been fraudulent for a little more than four decades now. Gold officially anchored the global monetary system for two centuries prior to 1971. Then, in 1971, President Nixon’s administration acted to break away from two hundred years of tradition and the U.S. ended direct convertibility of the dollar to gold. Of course the “Great Society” welfare programs and the Vietnam War had a lot to do with this decision.

“Your dollar will be worth just as much tomorrow as it is today,” Nixon proclaimed on television with a straight face. “The effect of this action, in other words, will be to stabilize the dollar.”

Of course the exact opposite happened: the U.S. dollar fell off a cliff. Anyone living during the 70’s can attest to this. What was the price of a new home back then? A new car? A hamburger? The difference between what those items cost in 1971 and what they cost today represents how far the U.S. dollar has fallen in purchasing power.

How did this happen?

Well, with all ties to gold removed governments and central banks discovered they could conjure currency into existence to pay for anything they wanted. Tanks, fighter jets, food stamps, Medicare part D, $800 trash cans… no problem! So they embarked upon this historic credit expansion armed with a magical monetary system that provided them with money for nothing.

But governments weren’t the only beneficiaries. The companies making the tanks and the bombs made out like bandits. So did all of the bureaucrats who were hired as government expanded. And the people receiving welfare benefits found the system quite palatable as well. Pretty soon smart people learned that the best business in the world was to sell something to the U.S. government because it had unlimited money to spend. So they descended upon K Street like buzzards on road-kill and pretty soon the suburbs surrounding D.C. claimed home to six of the wealthiest ten counties in the U.S.

The champagne has been flowing up on the Hill and in the lobbyist offices on K Street for four decades now thanks mostly to the fraudulent fiat monetary system in place since 1971. The establishment hails their elastic currency system as a major success but theirs is a self-serving and short term view. Credit has been constantly expanding since 1971 but do we really think this can go on forever? Can we continue to run up debt, print money to pay interest on that debt, and then buy all of the fighter jets, disability checks, politicians, and cheap junk from China without ever having to think twice about it? If not, what happens when the credit contracts and we can no longer afford all of these expenditures?

The Austrian School of Economics tells us what the result of this madness will be: a “crack-up boom” followed by a monstrous bust as all of the bad debt and malinvestments are finally liquidated.

The crack-up boom occurs as the prices of assets and real goods are driven up to the moon by enormous amounts of excess currency conjured into existence in an attempt to perpetuate the credit expansion. After all, that new currency has to go somewhere. This scheme will work to stave off the credit contraction… until it doesn’t. Then cometh the bust.

While Austrian Economics can make the diagnosis, the timing of the bust cannot be predicted. There are too many interconnected factors at play. What’s important is that there is still time to build financial resiliency in advance. The cornerstone of financial resiliency is knowledge and understanding. Understand fiat money is an illusion. Understand the difference between money and wealth. Study Austrian Economics to get a feel for what’s really going on in the economy.

Once you understand how the monetary system actually works you can formulate a customized asset allocation model based upon your personal circumstances.

A resilient asset allocation model will consist of cash (20-30%), precious metals (10-30%), real estate (30-60%), and strategic equities (10-15%).

At minimum you should carry enough cash to cover at least 6-12 months of expenses. Distressed assets will go on sale when then bust hits so any cash in excess of your reserve fund can be used to acquire these distressed assets (real estate, stocks, businesses, etc.) when they are cheap.

Your precious metals allocation should consist of physical gold and silver bullion stored at home or in a legal segregated account overseas. Never store precious metals in a domestic bank vault – Americans learned this the hard way back in the 30’s when the banks closed and FDR raided the vaults to confiscate gold. Remember, precious metals are insurance not speculation. The price of gold (and silver) will skyrocket in terms of fiat currency, but its purchasing power will remain relatively constant just as it has for thousands of years. Those who save in fiat currency will see their wealth evaporate as the credit contraction unfolds while those who hold precious metals will weather the storm. J.P Morgan testified before Congress in 1912: “Gold is money. Everything else is credit.” Don’t be fooled.

Real estate presents a unique opportunity currently as we are living during a period of historically low interest rates and lenders are willing to offer long term mortgages at these low rates. This provides a tremendous opportunity to lock in these low rates on real estate for thirty years during which time interest rates will inevitably rise significantly.

We firmly believe stocks should make up the smallest percentage of a resilient portfolio under current economic conditions. Stockholders have been the primary beneficiaries of the massive credit expansion and all of the easy-money chicanery over the past several years. Financial institutions have poured new money into the equities markets and publicly-traded companies have used a ton of excess cash to buy back shares of their own stock. As a result current stock valuations do not reflect the underlying health of the economy. Though stocks will run for a bit longer, we are closer to the end than the beginning of the bull cycle. We think the exception is in the resource and commodity sector, however. The stocks of well-managed companies in this sector could do extremely well over the next few years as the global financial system continues to falter.

Nobody can control macroeconomic conditions but we can each control our individual response to them. Building financial resiliency by constructing a diversified portfolio across several asset classes is an individual solution to a collective problem. Financial resiliency is just half of the picture, however. Tomorrow we will look at what we call home resiliency.

Until the morrow,

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Joe Withrow

Wayward Philosopher

For more of Joe’s thoughts on the “Great Reset” and the paradigm shift underway please read “The Individual is Rising” which is available at http://www.theindividualisrising.com/. The book is also available on Amazon in both paperback and Kindle editions.