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Parlaying the Pig

By many Americans do you reckon know the Chinese New Year began on February 18th? But how many knew that Britney Spears shaved her head the day before?

I always read Jeff Saut with great interest because of the width of his lens. He allows us all to see through his unique process as a strategist to view more of the horizon in a few minutes than most investors can on a good day. I have had the fortune to read most strategists throughout my career and Saut is my favorite, hands down, and for full disclosure that was well before I began writing for Minyanville.

I think he is so unusually creative and open-minded that it has actually partially shaped my opinion on Raymond James (RJF) positively, which I applaud for letting a strategist talk strategy. Huh? Watch the next time a big brokerage firm's strategist gets asked a question, or is asked to share a candid opinion, and note how few times you actually hear a clear answer. That Minyans get to read Saut's vibes here is a true privilege and is also as a credit to the faith and trust in what Todd has built, as he reflected on today, because we are at a time where communication inside a firm requires countless approvals built by distrust. To share with outside sources is almost unheard of anymore.

Most strategists and investors agree on the US' problems, and there are a lot of them. Sadder still is that pointing them out dominates most folks' time spent on them. It is a rare bird who crafts a strategy to attack them. Cast an eye on L-1 Identity (ID), a stock my firm happens to own, that Saut shared with Minyans in Vail and has scribbled about a few times here. The Texas Department of Public safety awarded ID a contract this week to purchase 100 of its criminal booking systems. The company develops face, finger, and iris recognition technologies used for protecting and securing personal identities and assets, with a growing business in border safety. The border problems down here in Texas and elsewhere are real, and they are huge. But they may be good business not only for politicians, but good stock pickers.

Saut's article on "Kong Hei Fat Choi" is a must read. Outside ye faithful in the Minyanship, how many Americans do you reckon know the Chinese New Year began on February 18th? But how many knew that Britney Spears shaved her head the day before? Churchill said the best argument against a democracy is a five-minute conversation with an average voter.

If the U.S. is going to understand its problems, it is going to have to do a better job learning about other people and their cultures and what they like and don't like. For example, how many Americans could easily name the few weeks surrounding bowl games and the Super Bowl as the biggest of the year for Las Vegas revenue? I would wager most could, and incorrectly. The biggest few weeks of the entire year for Las Vegas casinos surround the Chinese New Year. The New York Times even notes that Celine Dion gets two weeks off and the Canto Pop Sensation Jacky Cheung is ushered in. The MGM just spent millions renovating its entrance because the Chinese believe walking into the mouth of a beast is bad luck. The University of Nevada Las Vegas is building campuses in China and Singapore.

I will stick by two secular pages of my playbook and continue to tweak the patterns I am running in an effort to improve and adjust. They are: (1) In general, the U.S. is a little less important today than it was yesterday, and a lot less important than most people believe. Last time I looked, Hewitt notes 95% of 401k's are invested domestically, 5% internationally. I note 95% of the world does not live in the U.S. (2) The Year of the Pig is an excellent reminder of something I learned years ago on the Krueger Farm: Pigs eat corn. The most consumed meat in the world? Pork. The most consumed discussion in my firm's offices for the past two years – how will we feed everybody?

My firm remains overweight individual international equities (despite recently noting many emerging risks to be traded around), because I think they are only foreign if you live in the U.S.' 5% fishbowl. I also remain invested and will look to expand in agricultural commodities, along with everything needed to grow them and ship them.
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