”A foolish consistency is the hobgoblin of little minds.”― Ralph Waldo Emerson
When tech entrepreneur Bob Lee was found murdered on the street in San Francisco last month, there was outrage. Republican candidates across the county blamed the Democratic mayor for being soft on violent criminals. “Despite statistics that show violent crime overall is down in the city,” reports Kari Paul from San Francisco in the Guardian, continuing:
“Headlines and tweets about the crisis raged on. A friend of Lee, former UFC fighter Jake Shields, claimed the founder had been targeted in a random mugging. ‘Fuck San Francisco,’ he tweeted. Billionaire Elon Musk, who recently took over the San Francisco-based Twitter, tweeted that violent crime in the city had become “horrific” and claimed, without offering proof, that violent offenders ‘are often released immediately’.
As the details evolved however, it turned out Lee, the founder of Cash App, was actually murdered by the older brother of a married San Francisco socialite. Nima Momeni, himself a tech entrepreneur, knew Lee and was accusing him of being intimate with his Khazar Elyassnia, his sister who’d married a prominent plastic surgeon.
Lee and Elyassnia both frequented cocaine and ketamine sex parties common to the upper echelon of San Francisco society. The parties were known as “the lifestyle” a throwback to the free love counterculture of which San Fran was the epicenter. The high profile murder was just another in a litany of drugs, lust and jealousy.
It’s hot and humid today. July 3rd this year, if you haven’t heard, went down in the hottest day globally since records started being kept in 1850. The air temp 4 feet off the ground for the entire planet averaged 26.6 degrees fahrenheit beating the old record set in 2016 by .2 degrees.
We don’t mention the temperature to get climate change evangelists a nod, rather to say: By force of habit, we don’t publish when the markets are closed. In the heat, four days off and a national holiday with exploding projectiles were, well, welcome.
We’ll give you a quick rundown of the markets then get back to the “lifestyle.”
The S&P 500 closed out the first half of the year with a healthy rally. Despite March banking jitters, year-to-date by the close on June 30, the S&P jumped to a 15.9% gain – its best first half since before the pandemic.
Not to be outdone, the tech heavy Nasdaq proved to be a safe haven from broader market jitters, closing up 31.7%, for its own best first half in 40 years. The Dow limped along with a modest gain of 3.8%.
I’ve written on occasion that I learned more about the free market from my own misadventures following the Grateful Dead than I ever did from books on economics or school. The band was also a feature of “the lifestyle” in San Francisco in the 1960s having assembled in the famed Haight-Ashbury district.
For decades the band toured around the country with thousands of followers in tow. Deadheads would sell t-shirts, hot dogs, hand-crafted art, beer, and shall we say a menu of illicit products so they could make it to the next “show.” From the age of 14, I was an interloper among the heads.
The music was great. From their own musical interests I learned the blues, jazz, early rock n’roll, folk and protest songs. I pretend to this day that I play guitar.
More important to me now? I learned some basic lessons in math and economics and people’s motivations. At one show, for example, at Alpine Valley in Wisconsin, I bought a 30-pack of Stroh’s beer for $15. Then I stood outside the gate as the sweaty and thirsty heads were leaving the concert pavilion. I could get $2 or $3 dollars for a cold beer. My $15 turned into roughly $40. Hmm…
The lead guitarist for the band, Gerry Garcia, died in 1995, a victim of his own version of the lifestyle. The band continued on with a couple of iterations of new members and names.
For about 8 years, two of the founding members, Bob Weir and Mickey Hart have been touring with Dead & Co. I hadn’t seen them play, but they announced their final tour this year… so last Tuesday we took another crack.
Jennifer and I flew to Indiana to see Dead & Co at the Ruoff Center in Noblesville.
A word about deadheads. I learned if you can get past the second hand pot smoke, the dreadlocks of suburban white “rastas”, you find an interesting sentiment burbling up from the sweat and the tie-dye.
Mainly, a rejection of the conventional wisdom.
Rain and mud are welcome and one can actually breathe fresh air.
In other words: Why fix what ain’t broke?
There’s something… solid about this kind of existence. It’s different from the sort of Southern yeehaw, don’t-tread-on-me mentality… but the yips and yays of self-reliance are still present.
Or on recently reminded us of a passage from an essay by Ralph Waldo Emerson called Self-Reliance:
A foolish consistency is the hobgoblin of little minds, adored by little statesmen and philosophers and divines. With consistency a great soul has simply nothing to do. He may as well concern himself with his shadow on the wall.
At the end of the day, we all crave authenticity. “The Fed craves consistency,” Henry said, like the statesman of Emerson’s observation.
“The smug complacency in 2000 looks eerily similar to what we have on our hands today,” David Rosenberg, former head economist at Merrill Lynch, writes to DNyuz, adding that a recession is “coming sooner than you think.”
Rosenberg cautions that investors appear overly optimistic today, just as they were nearly 25 years ago. Looking at the first half of 2023 in the stocks market it’s easy to make the comparison. The price of AI chipmaker Nvidia tripled in the first half, lifting its market capitalization above $1 trillion – the fifth American company to do so.
Belief in AI may be “a new era hallucination” like many innovations before it. But if you can buy its stock for a hypothetical “$15” and make back “$45”, well that profit will help you get to the next “show”.
Follow your own bliss,
The Wiggin Sessions
P.S. I would be remiss, if I didn’t point out… my wife and I did the show in Noblesville right. We got VIP parking, a private fast-lane entrance to the venue, top tier tickets to “The Pit” right in front of the band, and entrance to the Green Room with air conditioning and an open bar.
Yep. That’s a far cry from schlepping beer and t-shirts while living out of a backpack and sleeping bag while a touring the county in a VW bus.
While we were in the pit we struck up a conversation with a couple gentleman next to us who turned out to be investment managers from Cleveland.
Addison Wiggin is an American writer, publisher, and filmmaker. He was the founder of Agora Financial and publisher for 18 years. An acclaimed New York Times best-selling author, his books include: Financial Reckoning Day, Empire of Debt, The Demise of the Dollar, and The Little Book of the Shrinking Dollar. Addison is also the writer and executive producer of the documentary I.O.U.S.A., an exposé on the national debt, shortlisted for an Academy Award in 2008. He lives in Baltimore, Maryland with his family. Addison started his latest project, The Wiggin Sessions, powered by Consilience Financial, in March 2020. He films from a homegrown studio in his basement.