14 December 2007

Schultz sees an apocalypse now


Commentary: Veteran editor declares 'A financial tsunami is upon us'
By Peter Brimelow, MarketWatch
Last update: 12:01 a.m. EST Dec. 13, 2007
NEW YORK (MarketWatch) -- The Fed flops and Wall Street is worried. But one letter veteran has been here before, not that it makes him any cheerier.
Occasionally, I get reader emails claiming that The International Harry Schultz Letter's Harry Schultz is dead. He himself insists in an email to me that he is still alive. But he must be well over 80 now, although he's always been mysterious about his age. I notice that that he's now listed as "editor emeritus," although the letter is still written in his characteristically quirky first-person voice.
Alive or not, Schultz must feel like he's been resurrected. Systemic financial fears, dollar doubts, gold gains, seeping stagflation - a word Schultz claims he coined - all eerily replicate the 1970s, which he began as a derided crank and ended victorious over the financial establishment. (After which, significantly, he was notably quick to say the storm had passed).
Shultz's latest letter, just in, is absolutely apocalyptical: "A financial tsunami is upon us," he says, caused by lax credit and complications introduced by Wall Street's derivatives craze.
Among other interesting ideas raised by Schultz in his intense, somewhat terrifying introduction: recession, possibly depression; bank failures; exchange controls; housing prices down by 50%; credit card company failures; money market fund dangers; tripling of U.S. jobless numbers; federal bail-outs for Fannie Mae (FNM

) and Freddie
Mac (FRE

) .
His advice, translated out of his shorthand style: "If you have not already done so, take immediate measures to safeguard your assets against the global derivative crisis ... Most urgent is close out time deposits, buy non-U.S. government bonds."
In other words, Schultz is saying the U.S. banking system is threatened. How's that for a Christmas greeting?
Schultz says "the second biggest danger is owning U.S. dollars in any form, (it) has crashed and going much lower ... use dollar rallies to exit dollars or sell short ... This is not a time to seek profits, but to protect what U have ... Portfolio diversification is essential in troubled times."
Schultz's favored currencies: "In order of preference: Swiss Franc, Australian dollar, Euro, Canadian dollar."
Schultz is a trader and his specific market advice is nuanced. He writes: "Direction of global stock markets uncertain. Balance stock holdings between long and shorts to counterbalance draw-down risks, and/or hedge exposure via puts, futures, or bear funds ... Exposure to gold shares and bullion should be a minimum of 35-45% of your total portfolio, with at least 10% in physical gold bullion and coins, and/or very rare coins ... "
On gold, he writes: "The public is still not in the gold market. They will be in 2008 as the derivatives and credit crises bring down more financial institutions (amid recession) and eyes will be opened, via pain. While Rome burns, gold will smash through its old unadjusted-for-inflation $850 high on the way to $1,600, & who knows how far beyond ..."
Schultz is still buying a few stocks. His top pick for December: Terra Nitrogen Co. LP, (TNH

) . But he
recommends buying when and if the stock closes above $130 on two consecutive days.
Amid the apocalyptic advice, Schultz finds time to dispense some other helpful hints. Avoid fluoride. Cell phones may cause cancer. Sauerkraut makes for a healthier prostate. Use faxes for all financial transactions. Give money to Republican presidential candidate Ron Paul on his Dec. 16 Boston Tea Party anniversary fundathon.
In case you're wondering, Schultz is up 21.42% over the past 12 months according to the Hulbert Financial Digest, vs. 7.51% for the dividend-reinvested Dow Jones Wilshire 5000. Over the past five years, Schultz is up a remarkable 34.38% annualized vs. 12.85% annualized for the DJW.
Not so easy to dismiss.

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