Letter From a Birmingham Museum

The goal of most Narratives is to convince you to sit down and shut up. But every once in great while, their goal is to fight fire with fire – to make you start thinking when others are telling you to stop.

Read more

Investing with Icarus

The allure of a fundamental truth is powerful. Investors are hungry for that kind of clarity about markets, but it doesn’t exist. In the first in a series, Rusty discusses a framework for investing in a time of Icarus.

Read more

The Two Churchills

If you can manage to find a truly independent voice in your personal, political and financial life, pursue it with reckless abandon. Don’t set it to the side so that you can build a brand or make an impact. Get your ass out of the boat, grab your bow, strap on your broadsword and sound the pipes. All that’s left is to decide what song you’re going to play.

Read more

Mailbag: Life in Trumpland

The best part about this job, other than being recognized in random bars by 50-year old financial advisors who are always good to buy me a drink (hey, you take your celebrity where you can), is the correspondence with readers. I began writing Epsilon Theory 3+ years ago from a pretty dark place, and it’s …

Read moreMailbag: Life in Trumpland

Essence of Decision

Here’s the thing. The Fed is now revealing its one True Love — its own reputation and its own political standing — and that’s going to be a bombshell revelation to investors who think that the Fed loves them.

Read more

Crisis Actors and a Reichstag Fire

Man in Bar: Tomorrow, I’m gonna be a hero. Gideon: I’m sorry?  Man in Bar: You may just be a patsy, but you’re an important one. In fact, I don’t think I’ve ever met a bigger crisis actor than you before. … This is for our country! [Man in Bar shoots Gideon in neck, killing …

Read moreCrisis Actors and a Reichstag Fire

When Narratives Go Bad

How many things served us yesterday as articles of faith, which today are fables for us? – Michel de Montaigne, The Complete Essays (1580) That same night, I wrote my first short story. It took me thirty minutes. It was a dark little tale about a man who found a magic cup and learned that …

Read moreWhen Narratives Go Bad

Pressure and Time

Red: [narrating] In 1966, Andy Dufresne escaped from Shawshank prison. All they found of him was a muddy set of prison clothes, a bar of soap, and an old rock hammer, damn near worn down to the nub. I remember thinking it would take a man six hundred years to tunnel through the wall with …

Read morePressure and Time

Who’s Being Naïve, Kay?

The Mysterious Stranger is a liar, to be sure, but he’s a proper villain, as the Brits would say, and he’s quite upfront about his goals and his use of clever words to accomplish those goals.

Your goal? Survive the encounter.

Read more

Hobson’s Choice

If you don’t like what’s being said, change the conversation. – Don Draper, Mad Men: “Love Among the Ruins” (2009) It is better for reputation to fail conventionally than to succeed unconventionally. – John Maynard Keynes, “The General Theory of Employment, Interest, and Money” (1936) Bobby: What do you mean you don’t make side orders …

Read moreHobson’s Choice

The China Narrative That Really Matters

I’m a China bull, let’s get that out of the way first. But like anything connected with the global industrial and commodity complex today, from Emerging Markets to MLPs to oil prices, it doesn’t matter what the Truth with a capital T might be regarding the real world economic or business fundamentals. The story is …

Read moreThe China Narrative That Really Matters

When the Story Breaks

The Three Types of Fear: The Gross-out: the sight of a severed head tumbling down a flight of stairs. It’s when the lights go out and something green and slimy splatters against your arm. The Horror: the unnatural, spiders the size of bears, the dead waking up and walking around. It’s when the lights go …

Read moreWhen the Story Breaks

Breaking Bad

Jesse: And why’d you go and tell her I was selling you weed? Walt: Because somehow it seemed preferable to admitting that I cook crystal meth and killed a man. – “Breaking Bad” (2008) Meadow: Are you in the Mafia? Tony: Am I in the what? Meadow: Whatever you want to call it. Organized crime. …

Read moreBreaking Bad

Actually Maybe Not So Excellent

Everything under heaven is in chaos; the situation is excellent. ― Mao Zedong (1893 – 1976) A quick email on China’s currency devaluation last night. The news itself is big enough, but it’s the Narrative that’s developing around the devaluation that has my risk antennae quivering like crazy. What do I mean? I mean that …

Read moreActually Maybe Not So Excellent

The New TVA

War is too important to be left to the generals.– Georges Clemenceau (1841 -1929) Competition has been shown to be useful up to a certain point and no further, but cooperation, which is the thing we must strive for today, begins where competition leaves off. … If we call the method regulation, people will hold …

Read moreThe New TVA