When I’m not making music or out trying to save the world I’m neck deep into studying the world of investing, finance and economics. Perhaps it’s an age thing. Many are the storied legends of Mick Jagger who spent the first half of his life in the fast lane of sex drugs and rock’n’roll only to transform into a proper English gentleman, knighthood and all, who was just as comfortable sipping tea on his private jet reading The Economist and other finance publications as he used to be onstage. I remember reading these articles about him as a kid and as weird and incongruent as it sounded it still appealed to me, made me think “Hhhmmm…. that seems like a cool way to go… Live life wild crazy and free when you’re young and then transition into an aristocratic Bruce Wayne type of character when you get older.” I logged the memory of the article I read and those thoughts and continued about my life in fast lane for years.
It didn’t take long for the entrepreneurial bug to grab a hold of me. Since that aspect of my life is already well known and written about, as well as not the specific impetus for this particular post, the only thing I’ll add here is that yes I did start my first company when I was 20 (a rehearsal and recording studio facility) and proceeded to transition into a variety of different industries as an entrepreneur and businessman simultaneously throughout my career as a recording artist. Once entrepreneurism gets you, it’s hard to shake it. I still own 3 corporations and have been developing several more new ones this year. Besides the fact that being in business helps bring in an unlimited and more than usual amount of money — which is essential if you want to make music for a living in this day and age (there’s just no money in it anymore), it also feels good to be able to provide jobs to people. That’s one of the aspects of being in business that I like the most. That and the freedom of not having to punch a clock everyday for someone else’s financial gain.
For the last two years, yes two years — i know how insane that sounds — we’ve been working on these two new Ed Hale albums. Same crew. Me and the guys in Transcendence and various other friends and cohorts. What started out as a relatively simple idea, let’s hurry up and get the follow-up to Ballad On Third Avenue and All Your Heroes Become Villains out while we’re hot, as usual turned into a big long laborious and expensive adventure. We shouldn’t even be surprised anymore I suppose. I’ve been doing this for decades now. We start an album and before we know it my mind gets so filled with ideas and concepts and ambitions to innovate that it ends up taking years. The guys hate it. I hate it. Don’t ask why I do it. Can’t help myself really.
These two new ones are no exception. Just the fact that it started out as ONE new album and quickly morphed into 34 songs split up between two albums speaks volumes about what the other guys in the band have to deal with. But if you’re a freind or fan and are feeling more than tired of waiting, I promise you it’ll be worth it. It’s not like we’re doing anything revolutionary or totally out of this world like with All Your Heroes… But we are aiming high and trying a lot of new things we’ve never done before. That’s what’s taking so long. We’ve never created an album with this many musicians on it before. Nor with this kind of build-up and anticipation. Both are contributing to the extended amount of time being invested in the project.
Since the albums have been taking so long, I started to dive into actively learning about investing and finance again. Hardcore. Yes, while it’s true that I began trading fifteen years ago, it was primarily as a hobby. I was a kid. It was fun and games. I had a lot of money to burn. I won some and lost some. I didn’t realize how much there was to learn… I just rode the coat tails of various bull markets. Learned as much as I could and then being a recording artist and general ambassador took over. It became impossible to find any free time to invest in anything but me. Besides the fact that in 2007 we hit this major economic collapse, what is now called “the Great Recession”, and so investing of any kind really lost it’s appeal for me.
Earlier this year that changed. I’m not sure what it was exactly. Precious Metals had always appealed to me. Bought my first 10 ounce bar of silver for $40. They’re now worth $200. And my first 1 ounce gold coin for $345. Those are now worth $1200. That’s incredible to contemplate. Earlier this year a buddy who knew that I used to love precious metals (Zeke Zaskin in fact) informed me how high they had risen over the last few years. So I jumped into investing in them again. First buying them physically. Bullion, bars and coins. And then exploring more advanced techniques for investing in them. ETFs, ETNs, leveraged plays, inverse plays. It’s all gotten quite advanced. Much more so than one could ever imagine from the outside. That got me back into the investing game full time. Pretty soon I was investing in other things, anything and everything. Whatever made money.
And therein we begin to explore the real point of this post. For about six months now I have been actively and passionately waking up at 4:30am everyday to participate in very active investing. This is the reason why it seems as though I “disappeared”. Because I did for all intents and purposes. But I’m still here. I’ve just been buried in this other world. And when I’m not doing this, I’m running our other companies or in the recording studio trying to finish the albums. Now you know.
With finance and economics there’s a big learning curve to it all. I spend about 50% of my time studying and learning and the other 50% behind a computer hardcore investing. Buying, selling, trading, hedging. It’s an insane world to thrust one’s self into. In all honesty I can say unequivocally that I wouldn’t recommend it to anyone. There’s got to be better things one can do with their life and time. I’ve just become slightly obsessed with it for various reasons. There’s the money making aspect to it sure. That can’t be denied. But then there’s also something else there, something more powerful and profound. The learning.
See, when we’re out there in the regular world, living our day to day lives on Main Street, going about our business, we normally have no idea what the mechanics are behind the world that we live in. We may try to keep up with the latest news from the radio or TV or water cooler or online media… But it’s rare that we learn the actual “WHY” behind what goes on in the world. Things just are. And we adjust accordingly. Sure pundits try to break things down after the fact. But we never get a peek behind the curtain to see what the primal force underlying the initial development of most events is. Instead we attempt to assess and integrate the incoming data and then act based on it and what we’re told. What I have slowly begun to see from diving so deeply into the world of finance and investing is that nearly everything that touches our world, everything that shapes it, has it’s start in the world of economics and finance. Investing. Money making.
It’s a fascinating game. In our world, meaning YOU and ME — people like us, we take it for granted that burning coal is bad for the planet, or that fossil fuels like oil and fracking are bad for the environment and eroding the atmosphere and poisoning our water supply. But what we almost never think about or hear about — especially not on a level that we can relate to — is how much money is being made from these activities. Not just for rich old cigar chomping white men, but for pretty much everyone. We’re talking about trillions of dollars. Governments are completely indebted to certain entities. Hell, governments are nothing but organized systems of employees who work for large multi-national corporations comprised of a select group of very wealthy individuals who pretty much control everything. The money obtained through taxing a country’s citizens is nothing compared to the money needed to really run a thriving economy, or at least appear as if you’re running a thriving economy.
The United States for instance is completely indebted to this very private corporation made up of various European banking cartels called “The Federal Reserve” — there’s nothing “federal” about them; they’re not a part of the American government — who at the moment are loaning our banks and government 85 billion dollars a month. $85,000,000,000. BILLION. Per month. It’s a figure so staggeringly large that it’s beyond our comprehension. Without this money, our economy would have collapsed long ago. In return our government does whatever this private entity tells it to. So too do our banks. We as citizens are indebted to our government — as in we do what they say when they say it as they instruct us to or we risk being arrested and having our rights taken away and/or being thrown in prison etc. As well we are indebted to the banks of the world. It’s’ how we finance our lives. It’s how we buy our cars, pay for college, buy our homes, pay for our health care, etc. It’s all one big system wrapped in on itself.
Yes everyone needs everyone else to survive — and I elaborate on the potentially beneficial implications of this a lot more in the We Are the Revolution book I have been working on for the last few years that explores the Personal Expression Age, but for the most part just because WE are an integral part of this large system does NOT imply that we have any say or control in it, nor in how it is run. Because for the most part we don’t. [Here I am speaking specifically about physical action that could affect change or results as opposed to actions in consciousness, which is another matter entirely.]
Now that’s the bigger picture. The classic “wealthiest one percent control the world made up of the other 99%” viewpoint. It’s a well-run, well-known and fully explored and taken for granted viewpoint. Always has been since humanity first appeared on earth and started making note of it. That’s the background of our day to day lives. And from what I can tell from all this research and work I’ve done for the last six months into economics and finance, things haven’t shifted at all away from this direction. If anything they’ve become more linearly constricted and compacted, i.e. the 1% have and control even more and the 99% have and control even less, making them more dependent on the 1%.
But that isn’t new, and it isn’t the main crux of this post or what I’ve discovered. What’s more interesting if we zoom in a bit is just how totally controlled the world we live in is by finance. We can call it economics. Most do. But i believe that’s a misleading label. A misnomer. Because since time began we could all say that “the world we live in is largely controlled by economics” and who’s going to argue with that? It’s a given. But it’s not really economics per se as much as it is the world of finance and investing, ie making money. That’s really what’s pulling the strings. That’s what fuels economics, or “the economy”. Like this: economics may seem to control the world we live in, but in actuality it is more a result of and an indicator of what is happening in the world of finance and investing. There’s a difference.
The reason we won’t stop fracking until half the wildlife and water of the United States is destroyed and most everyone we know is dead or dying from unnatural causes is because there is HUGE money being made from natural gas. It’s the same reason why China and India won’t stop burning coal even though they’ve been warned for decades about it’s harmful effects. Just to be clear, the United States still has at least thirty-something percent of it’s electricity being powered from coal as well. So we’re no angels. twenty-something percent is from natural gas. The rest from oil. A very small part is from solar. A very very small part. Solar hasn’t turned into a cash cow yet for anyone. Therefore it will never see the kind of love that oil or coal or natural gas has through the years.
What it really all comes down to is where the money is. You and I don’t have the money to invest in a large energy exploration company or a mining company. No Main Streeter does. So we leave that kind of thing to the big dogs who do. What we commonly call Wall Street. (it’s really industry itself, industrialists; but Wall Street is it’s vehicle so to speak… Wall Street is how industry gets its investment capital.) They’ve got systems in place already that make them a ton of money, these industrialists. God love ’em. Whether it’s oil or gas or coal or iron ore or steel or even uranium or platinum. In the last six months I’ve invested in things I didn’t even know existed a few months ago. It’s a big world out there. Much larger and more entangled than we can ever imagine. And I cannot think of a better arena to learn about it than the finance and investing world. These industries are where the HUGE money is. Without these things we don’t have a “civilized world” to live in. At least not from our current viewpoint or past reference points.
Thus even we take these things for granted. Take a look around you. The giant industrial machine that surrounds us is astounding when you stop and look at it. What’s more fascinating is that every single one of these things that we see use touch smell operate work in and live in is created by someone, usually “someone else”, by a company. A company made up of others. A company made up of others who are making money from creating these things. Whether it’s our car or our house or our heating and air conditioning or our electricity or our roads… on and on… They’re all businesses, i.e. mechanisms for making money for someone. If they didn’t make money from doing it, they wouldn’t do it. And in return we wouldn’t have these things that we’ve become so used to and take for granted.
We’ve all heard of that movie from a few years ago “Who Killed The Electric Car”; it does an excellent job of explaining how the electric car was an idea whose time had come two decades ago — the technology had arrived — but the big oil companies literally stopped it in its tracks because it threatened their money generating ability. That’s an astounding thing when you stop and think about it. Truly astounding, that kind of power. But that’s the point of all this. There is no end to what kind of effect, no matter how bad wrong unjust or harmful, a powerful industry (collection of “other people”) can create in the world we live in if they want to because they feel that they’re money making potential is being threatened. THAT is the real crux of this.
It’s why so-called big pharma releases drugs they know may not be that safe for human consumption. And why large countries invade smaller ones. It’s why the United States claims to be fighting for freedom and liberty and yet supports the largest communist country in the world (China) and the largest dictatorship (Saudi-controlled Arabia). When we wonder why bad things happen in the world, what we’re really doing is pretending we don’t already know that at the heart of all things is the quest to make money.
In the last six months I have had two primary goals in the realm of what we have been discussing: to make money and to learn as much as I can about investing, economics and finance as possible. At times I have found it amazingly easy to make money. I have seen how powerful a small change in price of just a few cents can make if you’re leveraging a large amount of money in an equity. You can make a fortune with just a small move of twenty cents. You can also just as easily lose it. But more than that, what I’ve discovered that is far more profound is the need to make money and for that money to make money and how in the world of investing all morals values ethics and scruples stay home with the dogs and kids. They just don’t enter the picture. Not even a little bit.
All the big money in the world seeks a place to rest safely (protect itself) AND a place where it can generate MORE money. That’s it’s job. So it travels the world looking for new places to rest or do its job. This money, where it lands and what it does while there, is what not only feeds the world around us but builds and creates it. We’ll never get rid of war or weapons of war as long as building and using weapons of war remains such a profitable business. And that’s just another example. The same can be said for just about anything else around us good or bad.
One of the things that people ask me the most is “Don’t people realize that if they destroy the whole world just to make money that they too won’t have a world to live in and neither will their children?” I believe the answer to that question is that the big money already has that taken care of. I think we’d be fooling ourselves if we didn’t assume that they’ve already got contingency plans in place for those scenarios and they’ve got the money to implement them. I cannot help but be reminded of the underground living places and tunnels that connect them that have already been built all over (or under) the U.S. for our president and other “important people”. That’s enough to make you go postal, thinking about that. And also a recent movie entitled Elysium where all the wealthy people live on a space station a few thousand miles away from earth while all the middle class people live on a desolate polluted and over-populated earth. It’s a ghastly dystopian vision of the future. One which I hope we never have a chance to see. But it is a viable vision of the future we are currently creating if we continue on the path we are on.
There are innumerable ramifications to all of this. I believe we are only at the beginning of our learning. At least for me anyway. I was able to only touch upon a few aspects of it here. Just wanted to touch base. Much more later.