On the Importance of Gold, Cake, and Jim Sinclair

It is a fair thing to say that without certain people there would be no Gold Goats ‘n Guns. When the editor of Antiwar.com, Justin Raimondo, passed on I tried to explain how important he was to me.

I kept that article pinned on my Twitter feed for more than 3 years.

Alongside Raimondo’s fierce wit and opprobrium for all things war, there was “Mr. Gold,” Jim Sinclair.

Sinclair spoke clearly about the reality of how capital markets operated from a veteran insider’s perspective.

If Antiwar.com was required reading every Monday, Wednesday, and Friday because of Raimondo, JSMineset.com was required reading every day because Jim was indefatigable posting everything he considered important to the national and global balance sheet problems the world faced.

We ‘gold bugs’ of the time checked it then like we check Zerohedge today. ZH was born from the Sinclair blueprint.

Combing the Weeds for Gold

I spent hours in the theoretic weeds of Mises.org, Lewrockwell.com, and around the early days of the gold ‘podcast’ space. We didn’t call them that then.

Eric King, Jim Puplava, and Jay Taylor stood next to talks from Walter Block, Murray Rothbard, and Joe Salerno in filling my days while I toiled in a makeshift lab in an industrial park perfecting my odd character of one part monetary theorist, two parts rabid hockey fan, and three parts mad scientist.

You can imagine how close to the “Malcolm Gladwell 10,000 hours” I got to during the 2008 financial crisis alone. But without Jim Sinclair none of it would have made one lick of practical sense.

While everyone else spoke from outside the monetary system, in theoretical terms, Jim talked about the events unfolding in real time with the authority of the insider’s insider.

Here was the ultimate maverick. And everyone who knew him said as much.

This was the guy trying to get us past the punters and the sellers, the book talkers and the ideologues. Jim, in his elliptical way, tried to explain what was happening and why. He lifted the roof off the Wall St. sausage factory because he was clearly disgusted with how the recipes were changing.

Jim wasn’t an Austrian, or a Keynesian, or a Monetarist. He was a trader and an observer. He knew the limitations of all of those disciplines. But until the end, he was the guy who understood the basic math of the problems we faced then and were building for today.

Equally, he understood the plumbing of how the money flowed. Because of this he understood the centrality of gold to fixing the balance sheet problems facing the world.

If you don’t believe me, here’s an interview from 2020 that should prove that point:

And we should all wish to be half this sharp at 80, folks.

He taught us that their main tool was perception, hand-waving. The world practiced MOPE – Management of Perspective Economics — not any “ism” like capitalism or communism. And they did it badly, I might add. It gets even worse when you realize they also practice MOPP (MOPPolitics).

He was Zoltan Poszar before Poszar was Poszar. He had the same basic quality that Poszar possesses, the desire to teach, to illuminate. Jim wasn’t a natural teacher, he got better as time went along. He put in his second 10,000 hours to JSMineSet until he couldn’t anymore.

And he inspired that desire to teach in the rest of us.

That’s how you knew he wasn’t a gatekeeper or controlled opposition. He published Armstrong’s hand-written reports Marty produced while in prison for defying Wall St. He taught us about derivatives, credit default swaps, non-recourse financing. He held our hands through Lehman Bros., MF Global, and Bear Stearns.

I emailed him a few times over the years. He always answered with truly thoughtful responses to my questions.

He tried to teach us how to trade. Jim made great call after great call. Not all of them were right. No one gets every trade right. Get the big ones right, however he reminded us, and the little losses take care of themselves.

Sell a rhino horn, buy a fish hook. Leave 20% on the table for the God of Greed.

— JIM SINCLAIR

When you are a guy as successful and singular as Jim Sinclair, when you have the kind of fuck you money that he had, garnered from a life of out-trading everyone else and making a market in gold, what incentive is there to keep going with that life until you’re dead?

There has to be something else that drives you to look up from the quote screen and build something of real, lasting value. In Jim’s case it was that website and the gold company he put his own money into, TRX Corp.

How the Cake Gets Baked

And that brings me to another hero of mine who is also no longer with us, Dr. Gary North. In 2008, he wrote an article that is his legacy to me, “The Top Layer of the Cake.”

In that article North expounded on his father’s aphorism:

Life is like a three-layer cake. When you are young, there are two layers between you and death. Then your grandfather dies, and there is only one layer. Then your father dies. You are on top.

I entered the top layer 30 years ago, 1993. I was 25. The top layer is that time when you would normally be contemplating your legacy. It’s when you transition from being a father focused on raising a family, to becoming a grandfather yourself.

I wasn’t even a father yet. Hell, by any reasonable measure I wasn’t even a man.

I was way too young to contemplate my legacy. At least my grandfather got to see one of my dad’s kids before he died.

Now, I just noticed that North originally published it on December 16th, 2008, the first anniversary of the 2nd Ron Paul Money Bomb that shook the political foundations of the US empire, paving the way for Donald Trump in 2016.

December 16th is both Beethoven’s and Philip K. Dick’s birthday as well as the anniversary of the Boston Tea Party. It’s also the day, in 2002, that my wife and I closed on the property that we would build a house on, have our child in, raise goats on, and go through all the trials which led directly to today.

By the time North wrote this article I had, however, begun that top layer transition. I took his conclusion very seriously.

Your best strategy is to translate whatever you know of potential significance into a blog site or a website. If not, then make sure you organize it by using a good free-form database…

… Get something in print or on-line. This discipline is crucial for leaving a legacy. The legacy must be passed down to people who will put it to immediate use and then extend it.

I’d resolved back then to sharpen my skills as a communicator, that meant blogging. It meant mastering certain forms. It meant putting in the time. By 2008 I was writing on the NHL after writing a blog no one read.

It also meant I had to stop fighting with people who “didn’t get it” and begin figuring out how to talk to them in ways in which they would… eventually … in a perfect world. I’m a stubborn ass, so this took a long time.

My top layer moment, however, didn’t really begin until after my mom died in 2017, the year my first stint with Newsmax ended and I started Gold Goats n’ Guns.

By then Jim stopped writing and I stopped reading. Nothing against his apprentice, but he simply wasn’t Jim.

That was the moment when I really had to begin thinking about what I would leave behind me. What would my legacy be? I looked around my house at the pile of board games, the un-played guitars, what remained of my comic collection, the ruins of my experiment as a goat dairyman, and had to finally ‘get to it.’

Then my neighbors set the pine plantation next to my house on fire.

As I was packing my life into my car, the fire department showed up to put it out just in time. While they did so I silently stood there thinking, “Just let it burn.”

It would have been so much easier let it all go: take the insurance money, sell the property and start all over.

I’d done everything “right.” The house and car were paid off. I had my savings in gold and silver. My balance sheet was clean. Financially. Karmically? Well, clearly not.

No matter where you go, there you are. Thank you Buckaroo Banzai.

The Universe had other plans for me.

Leaving the house to burn wouldn’t have fixed what was broken. Only work and a dedication to embracing my ‘top layer’ would begin to do that.

Meet Your Heroes

I met Jim at one of his seminars he went around the country doing in 2013. I had just gotten hired by Newsmax to write Gold Stock Adviser. Coming back from a company get together where the title of this blog was born, I finally met the man whose own transformation helped inspire mine.

During the Q&A I got the courage to raise my hand and I asked him about what I saw then as the beginning of the end of the petrodollar. He went on for another five minutes about how important that was, singling it out as the most important item discussed that day.

Afterwards I went up to say hello, and he asked for my name. And sonofabitch he remembered me from my emails. I told him where I was now and his face lit up. That was all the encouragement I needed.

I still had a metric shit ton to learn.

I still do.

But the teacher had signed off on my entrance exam. And I went home that night knowing I was finally, after 45 years, on the right path.

It made those events of 2017 that much more digestible. I couldn’t see the responsibility that came with it then. I was too focused on making it through the next month, the next year. Jim bore that responsibility like a gentleman.

It was, ultimately, the lesson that stuck with me the longest, the bearing the responsibility.

I’m anything but a gentleman.

We all stand on the shoulders of those who came before us, hoping to build on what they built. But to do that you have to be humble, admit your ignorance and do the hard work, even if it means embracing ideas anathema to what you think you know today to be gospel truth.

We’ve lost the luxury of time. The crisis Jim tried to prepare us for is here. It’s happening all around us.

He died last week at 83. Oh to be a fly on the wall at the wake to hear the stories that will be told.

I told you mine.

I guess it’s time to snip off this Padawan’s tassel I’ve been hanging on to. Time to train the next generation.

Thank you Jim. Mahalo and bon voyage.

Reprinted with permission from Gold Goats ‘n Guns.