Month: January 2015

Articulating A Viewpoint

The other day I received a note from a friend (laced with satirical jabs in good clean fun) about my comment in an article where I wrote, “Today financial media is more concerned with perfectly lit coiffed hair and leg shots for television…”

He made the comment to me stating, “You had better now be careful, that’s going to be seen as a real chauvinist styled observation.” My response? ” Where in that article did I say it applied to women? Obviously it’s you that has that viewpoint – not I.”

In some ways I do get his point and it was a fair to make in a jocular fashion between friends. However, I thought it would also be informative to demonstrate as to where I stand when it comes to the fairer sex in the world of business. Personally, unlike others whom only espouse lip service to the subject, or try to skirt around it as to be “politically correct.” I made my viewpoint on how I feel pretty clear a while ago. My viewpoint also drew some welcomed accolades from people I deem as true professional women at all levels of business.

The article was titled, “The Bull On Bossy” for those that would like to read the entire piece. I wrote this when suddenly it seemed everywhere one looked the term (as well as books) the term “Bossy” was being used as criteria for why women weren’t having the ability they should to confront challenges in the business world.

Personally I found this meme utterly offensive for its lack of critical thinking, along with its insulting viewpoint to the very types of CEO’s I personally had the pleasure of working for. Yes, women CEO’s (true bosses) that ran a few of the largest, as well as top positioned companies in a male dominated business environment. To me, again this whole “bossy” thing was grade-school chatter,  possibly even kindergarten. Here’s an excerpt from the article:

“As I sit here typing I am recalling my interactions and first hand knowledge of them. To think that one of them would be offended at being called bossy makes me laugh.

There was no way one could sit across from them and not realize they were women. However, what you also never forgot and didn’t need to be reminded of was: they were the boss. Period. They commanded respect in tone and demeanor not because they were easily offended women, but because they were in charge. I don’t know about you – but I don’t see a guy/girl issue here. Sorry.”

It’s not that I felt the need that “I had better say something or Oh Oh!” It’s just the more I thought about, the more I felt it might be prudent to articulate and put into context what or why I might be stating something for the many new readers and subscribers to the site (which has been many and I’m grateful too all) that may not have a more in-depth knowledge of my thoughts, and why I say, what I say.

In this theater where now everything one may say is near immediately deemed as “politically incorrect” I just thought it might help to clarify a position to some where their first reaction is “Say what! That’s just so wrong!” without knowing more about my own background and experience around a particular subject. Nothing more.

© 2015 Mark St.Cyr

The Prevalence Of Group Think in The Main Stream Financial Media

Today what we’ve come to know as “main stream financial media” has provided nothing more than a vehicle for the exponential rise of group-think. All at the suffering of critical thought. So much so this phenom is clearly visible when watching, listening, or reading many of today’s financial “reporters” as compared to how, or what, was reported, analyzed, and discussed just a few years ago.

In what seems like the blink of an eye most anything to do with financial insight whether it be the reporting of, as well as investigative analysis; has morphed into some version of a stylized regurgitation of Central banking dogma. (this also includes many of the so-called “experts” brought on to fortify the sermons)

I would like to say “as many of you have observed” however, by the look of the ratings for the these once “darlings” of Wall Street (i.e., such as CNBC™ and others) It’s clear – you’re not watching or reading either. And with good reason.

It would appear I’m one of the few remaining masochists willing to (endure) try and still find a pearl of wisdom. Somewhere! But alas, all I seem to get is more of the same trite rolled into a political view, backed, and washed down with some form of globalist propaganda that any intelligent person can lay waste too if – the interviewer would just stop talking over (or shouting) for one second and answer a simple rebuttal to their own words. Honestly.

We now have this weeks version for all to see (again, that is, if you’re one of the few still watching or reading) in no other venue than what at one time was unquestionably considered a “serious source for all business.” Bloomberg™.

Today that view has been falling steadily and quite possibly will fall even further (as well as faster) if the type of columns, views, and insights continue down the same path as the most recent article titled “Why Falling Prices Are Actually a Real Bad Thing” penned by Shobhana Chandra.

In this article the writer tries to make the argument on why falling prices are like the title states “a real bad thing.” But the true underlying financial premise and the reasoning’s why are more in-tune with central planning hypothetical dogma recited within some board or classroom; then haplessly applied to vagaries of financial theory. Rather, than a true understanding of how pricing works in the real world.

Listen, I understand how one might think “Well who are you to criticize? Where’s your financial sheepskin? Maybe you should concentrate more on your own grammar and punctuation skills before criticizing.” Yeah, yeah, I get that. (as if that really mattered) However, I know my skill level. I also work continuously to improve. I know where I’m lacking. But, (and it’s a very big but) where I’m not lacking is my understanding of the topic or points that need to be addressed. And what I don’t know I’m happy to say “Sorry, I don’t know.” Yet unlike otherswho not only won’t admit that. I will  also take the next step as to go find out and learn! This seems clinically (and critically) absent in today’s financial press.

Look: sure, I don’t have a degree. Heck, I didn’t even finish high school. (only a G.E.D.) Yet, I did graduate from the most revered school on the planet: The school of hard knocks.

What we’re seeing today are people with Ivy League degrees coming out of grad school saddled with burdensome debt, flocking to the financial centers of media knowing nothing more than a world or economy propped up by Keynesian based policies now commenting and arguing why “everything is awesome!” Anyone with half a brain willing to say “Well hold on…” is immediately scorned, shrugged off, and quite possibly branded and slated to appear before the inquisitor committee of the Central Banking church of Keynes.

Today financial media is more concerned with perfectly lit coiffed hair and leg shots for television, or click bait inspired headlines free of typos or grammatical errors for print. However, the understanding of a topic? Is absolutely abysmal. And it’s getting worse.

Rather than take my impression let me offer up someone else’s opinion that I believe has the actual gravitas to explain and point out the obvious. Former Director of the OMB – David A. Stockman.

In Stockman’s latest article he points out in detail most, if not all, of what’s wrong with financial media reporting today. It’s well worth the read and articulated far better than I could. Yet, this is far from the first in this steady decline of financial acumen exposed in the media as of late. There have been many however, like I said, the frequency in which they’re appearing is gaining.

Another example of the growing misunderstandings and financial acumen becoming more, and more blatant I personally wrote about back in September of last year when host Jackie DeAngelis on CNBC  unabashedly posed a rhetorical ambush styled question/statement to Wall Street veteran Bill Fleckenstein.

In a condescending snark laced tone the seemingly sister in arms inquisitor asked, “At what point are you willing to concede that you’ve misunderstood monetary policy?” This is what the financial reporting media seems to have now morphed into. And like I said it’s getting worse – not better.

Unless you tout the line of what is infused and enabled by current monetary policy, with all its shenanigans, monetizing of debt, stick save comments by voting or non-voting members any time the markets retrace less than a rounding error: You’re the one considered uninformed or uneducated. It’s down right pathetic in my book.

Thin you know about debt? “You know nothing!” as was explained in this diatribe by another CNBC veteran Steve Liesman reported via ZeroHedge™ back in June of 2014. If you’re left shaking your head take heart in the fact; you’re in good company with all the others that have done the same over these last few years – never to return.

We now have guests appearing across the spectrum touting their prowess for investing in the markets as if there’s anything more to it then knowing what a Central Banker will or won’t do in the coming days, weeks, or months.

Once again for example we leaped close to 80 points in the S&P 500™ from a stick save last Thursday as the index remained below the now “everything’s awesome” level (i.e. 2000) when once again Fed. official James Bullard was reported to comment, that the Fed. “could resume unconventional policy.” That comment backed with expectations that ECB President Mario Draghi would unleash his monetary bazooka pushed the markets once again towards the upper levels “never before seen in human history” highs.

This was indeed needed since another Central Bank e.g. The SNB just laid waste to billions of dollars in carry trades and more when it “unconventionally” unilaterally pulled the plug on the peg with the Euro. This is what “investing” has now become. Someone please tell me what “prowess” dictates expertise here other than knowing what a Central Banker will or won’t do? Along with being in the index of choice dictated by that bank as “the one to watch.”

With recent books touting all one needs to do is “think like a billionaire” as if that’s how one is going to navigate the current turmoil raising its head within the currency markets. I would suggest that you think again. And think hard.

© 2015 Mark St.Cyr

From Keynesian Shangri-La To Outright War

Over the last few weeks drum beats could be heard signalling the coming of troops from abroad to lay waste to any foe ahead of them. However, unlike what we first conjure up as troops from an opposing force made up of men and weapons. This battlefield is being waged in the ether of the currency markets.

Although barely covered by the main stream press Central Bankers have now shown they’re now far from working in unison or displaying any semblance of a cohesive group. Rather, they’ve now turned their attention and policies inward in a “shoot first, screw asking any questions later” mindset.

It wasn’t hard to extrapolate recent events happening if one only paid attention to previous clues. The swiftness along with the repercussions going forward are the only thing that were hard to calculate. However, we now see the brutality and to what extent even perceived smaller entities (such as the Swiss) are willing to take to save their own sovereignty just by counting the first wave of casualties through the metaphor of empty money bags.

Once the Swiss National Bank (SNB) decisively went rouge and un-pegged the floor between the Franc and Euro everything changed. We’ll never know who knew what, if, or when. (i.e. All the other Central banks.) Yet one thing is clear: The SNB didn’t care about who or what entity was pegged to their currency in a carry trade, nor the effects it might have on its economy.

It seems they viewed their stance as having no other choice – but to act first irregardless of other concerns. For now this is all one may interpret being on the outside. Yet one thing is perfectly clear – that’s a move usually reserved for battles during war.

I don’t use the term “war” willy-nilly. These are the types of moves when preservation is at risk. When bold actions knowing there will be great casualties (even if it’s monetarily) must be taken. For these are decisions between existing another day – and existence at all.

There’s also another issue within this hypothetical that must be thought through: The SNB did this out of the blue with no indication such a move were even contemplated. In fact, just days prior the SNB signaled its commitment to the peg. So why just days later do what many deemed the unimaginable? Easy, like I stated in an earlier article maybe “they believed they had no choice with what the ECB was about to unleash.” Problem now is – what exactly did the ECB launch?

By all estimations the so-called “Full Monty” bazooka of monetary mayhem which had been anticipated and rolled down the fictional parade-way in a N.Korean styled viewing spectacle of financial armament for all to gawk over, wasn’t all that impressive. Once again the promise of “what ever it takes” seemed more in line with “take it – or leave it.” With the SNB being the first to do just that.

Back to the hypothetical question I alluded to: Ask yourself, if you were the SNB reading over the details as well as listening to the speech given by Mario Draghi as this latest plan of monetary QE is both to be implemented as well as the timing. (for it doesn’t even begin until March) Would you feel possibly set up?

Everyone was expecting a minimum of an additional 1 TRILLION Euros to be expended. Some were even contemplating the need for 2 and for it begin near immediately. What did they get? Jawboning of how 600 this, plus what they’re doing now, carry the one, add in the weight of the shelves and presto – a little over 1 in total. And it begins in two months! If you’re the SNB you have to be thinking: Wait…what?

Does one think the SNB could have handled this news while giving some time (at least till their next meeting) to help prepare its economy for the shock of the un-peg; rather than throwing itself into monetary turmoil based on what was announced last week via the ECB? If I’m a Swiss banker I know what would be on my mind. Yet, that deal is already done.

The real battle and positioning of armaments begins in earnest now. Not for the Swiss, rather I propose every other Central Bank or sovereign with both currency as well as derivatives at risk. This is now war and the spoils will go to those that move first, move often, and move in ways others never contemplate – or can time. The SNB has shown by dint the efficacy (with further unknowns working out in real-time) of such a decision for all to ponder and contemplate.

Over the last few years the idea of centralized monetary power fueled with Keynesian dictates and philosophy have given rise to economic fallacy. Where economic activity and health could be initiated as well as maintained indefinitely, providing everyone involved believed the ruse.

However, that ruse fell to pieces once the Federal Reserve (Fed.) in its bravado believed that after nearly 6 years of an open credit card policy; the unforeseen consequences of their actions would be limited to both the U.S. and within their purview for control. It was a fallacy of thought then – and it’s showing just how dangerous that policy was to continue for so long.

What is the Fed. to do now for both its logistical concerns and actions, as well as its credibility when everything that was supposed to take place via their intervention is now being laid to waste? Have a press conference and say “Oopsy?”

What does the Fed. now do about the one thing all this monetary policy mayhem was implicitly devised for (e.g., 2% inflation) when other Central banks are reacting to the Fed.’s own cutting of the QE credit cards and acting in a self-preservation manner; which is now driving scared money from around the globe directly into the one monetary vehicle that proves the Fed. was clueless in its forethought of unforeseen consequences? e.g. The Dollar.

Now huge flows of scared money are directly flowing into the Dollar causing it to rise, and rise at an impressive pace. All this and its only been a little more than 90 days since the QE spigot was turned off.

Now that the SNB has sanctioned the firing of this first salvo along with the unimpressive releasing of monetary might displayed by the ECB; if you’re let’s say Germany: How do you view all of this? Stay in the Euro as you watch others leave? Do you watch the Swiss carefully and ponder, “Hmmm…they seem to be surviving just fine. I wonder…..” as the ECB once again jawbones more and delivers less; causing your economy to falter or import more inflation than you wanted?

How about Greece, France, Italy, Portugal? Do they look at the Swiss and pose the same thought process? And what are the implications for not just the Euro Zone as a whole but the wealth funds, currency trades, and all the others that are intertwined in a labyrinth of connectivity?

Does the money flee from one currency to another in an algo-fueled HFT manipulated cross paired trades and derivatives that are leveraged so high that the SNB calamity wrought to traders short any currency will pull that risk – and not trade at all?

Maybe they’ll just plow more, and more money into the daily currency of choice: leaving it to sit on whatever today’s Central Bank of choice may be rendering their board members to pull their hair out trying to counter.

Do they stand by raising interest rates? Or go negative? For both have consequences far more reaching in this environment than was just 3 months ago when the signals were to “raise rates.” How’s that going to work? And how will that change be explained in another FOMC conference? Oopsy? Again?

Just like war “safe harbors” are viewed and used depending on the threat and need of any side depending on what they understand is their need – not someone else’s Nor an others time scale. All bets are off when it comes to war, and we’ve now entered one unforeseen by the very generals that said “they knew how to avoid it.”

This is the problem with all Keynesian styled philosophy. It works well, and seems utterly brilliant on paper and in the classrooms of academia. When trouble arises its “To the text books!” for answers. Change a line in the speech here, change the meanings of this to that, and BAM! – crisis solved.

However in the real world it doesn’t work that way. Again just like war when the battle starts – all earlier plans get thrown in the dust heap. And make no mistake. This was all started via armchair generals who believed monetary policy could be manged only within the Ivory Towers or walls of academia. The consequences of these policies are multiplying by the day.

For as Mike Tyson once said so eloquently: (I’m paraphrasing) “Everybody’s got a plan – till someone punches them in the face.”

The SNB has just landed the first blow. Now what?

© 2015 Mark St.Cyr

Some Different Thoughts On Goal Setting

There are a few distinct issues that raise problems for those trying to achieve laudable results when setting goals. Whether it’s someone new to the process, or the veteran who’s set countless. More often than not many are left wondering why their percentage of actually hitting them are less than adequate.

The main drivers are these: They are setting goals that either allow for failure. (i.e., The penalty for missing is inconsequential) They are uninspiring in the actual reward. Or, the reward date is too far off into the distance making the whole process laborious. Non are exclusionary onto themselves. Many times there are combinations of these and more.

“Goals” are not “wishes” nor vice vera. Goal setting that equates to “wish filling” is useless. Goals should and need to be articulated on the how and why one is going to reach them, along with a true carrot and stick measurement that helps to foster the achievement into a sacrosanct act. If the possibility of not fulfilling the goal leaves one with little discomfort or nothing more than “Oh well, I’ll try harder next time.” Then don’t even start, it will be a waste of time.

If one wants to truly see this process in action and test its validity, set your next goal following this criteria…

Pick a goal or accomplishment prize that requires a fixed dollar amount to purchase. i.e., A tangible, not intangible goal, such as a piece of jewelry, television, vacation tickets, etc. Then go out right then and there – and buy it!

Use common sense. I’m not saying go out and buy some new boat, car or other high ticket item that would break the bank. But the goal must be something tangible and something truly worth your effort. An example might be something along these lines:

If you want to lose weight, empty your closet (all of it at once) keeping only what is necessary to keep you clothed and immediately go out and purchase 1 new outfit today just 1 size smaller. Once you reach fitting into that smaller size – clear out all of the remaining clothes – and buy what you now need to keep you clothed in that new size; along with again buying one additional outfit 1 size smaller.

Rinse, repeat (yes even if this means possibly removing brand new items never worn during the process. For if you’re serious – they must go there and then regardless.) till reach your desired level. If you can’t clean out the closet (again) then and there, or, you make arguments to yourself as to keep things because, “I just bought these!” Or, “I never even wore this!” You’re not serious. You’re leaving a fall back position. That’s for wishing – not goal setting. Besides, think of the someone probably far less fortunate than yourself who will now have the ability to enjoy something they themselves maybe could not have purchased.

If you need a new computer the same process applies. Go buy it – now. Then make the adjustments you deliberately concluded would pay for it accordingly. And stick too them.

If you don’t live up to fulfilling what’s needed to accomplish your goals this process inherently reminds you – that you, not someone else, not some other excuse, but you, were the reason for not living up to keeping the goal.

This is a very powerful process and should not be taken lightly; for it truly sheds all manner of hiding one’s true resolve and shines the spotlight exactly where that light needs to be: directly on you, and your true commitment to your own resolutions.

Start small. However, the reward must be large enough showing the true value of achieving the goal, along with spotlighting the true hazards of not reaching it. Not doing the required tasks for completion must have actual consequences. Again, that said, common sense is the key.

Never, should a goal setting exercise be entered into where it could leave one financially damaged. That’s just plain foolish.

That said, goal setting should only be practiced when seriousness is in play. Otherwise, just keep playing around with wishing and hoping. There’s no commitment needed for the outcomes there.

Only consequences.

© 2015 Mark St.Cyr

A Thought On Leadership

I was queried for my thoughts on some myths of leadership. Here was my response:

One of the greatest myths held by both the general public along with those that find themselves in the corner office is the idea: They need to be an expert on all things. This is hogwash and cripples many potential great leaders from becoming just that, for they dedicate massive amounts of personal resources trying to know everything about – everything.

The issue this creates is: In a period of crisis, or where definitive leadership is needed; they know little or next to nothing about a lot of things.

Leadership is about knowing where to get expertise when needed, acquiring the ability as well as consistently honing the skill of listening as to understand and quickly judge character in people. This is paramount.

This is what enables a leader to “read” or ascertain whether someone is coming from a viewpoint of expertise – or just blowing smoke. For the leader many times has to make split-decisions in real-time whether it be to put a plan into action immediately; or scrap it all together and move on. And is far more important a trait in leadership than just the proverbial “people person” or “knows a lot about everything” moniker.

Investing the time in furthering one’s ability to read people will help one gain the expertise needed to handle most situations or crises, along with making that deceive decision to actually put it into play.

This is what separates the true leader from all the rest.

© 2015 Mark St.Cyr

Franc-ly Speaking: What If It Were All A Set Up?

Everyone loves a good conspiracy theory debate. Regardless of whether you argue for it, or against, there are times when suddenly the ramifications for plausible truth are realized that overshadow the conspiracy. This is where the plot of truth can get far more sinister than the imagined conspiracy ever could.

Since we’re going into a long holiday weekend here in the U.S. I figured it would be instructive to indulge in a few hypothetical arguments while throwing in a little conspiracy theory to make one think about what just might seem at first blush as unthinkable, might actually be more in line with undeniably plausible as time plays out.

For it will only be “in time” that we’ll know more about what prompted certain actions going forward. And what they may mean to all of us down the road if played out in ways most others would never contemplate.

I make that point because when I first thought about the Swiss National Bank’s (SNB) declaration to rescind its commitment to the Euro peg, I wondered why when just mere days before they assured their commitment to it.

A decision of this scale and magnitude with all its disruption directly thrust upon its own business infrastructure (i.e. The immediate throwing of profits into the waste-heap via a new exchange rate.) there had to be a reason far more onerous to the SNB than previously imagined. And that’s when my first thoughts went to thinking that maybe the SNB – was set up.

I use the words “set up” intentionally and deliberately. Why? Let’s just say today’s Central Bank cartel seems to have more in common with characters and scenarios in an episode of the Sopranos™ than anything else. Too harsh? Fair point. So let’s remember another indecent not all that long ago for some perspective.

Back in early 2011 then head of the International Monetary Fund (IMF) Dominique Strauss-Kahn (DSK) suddenly was charged with rape, sexual abuse, and unlawful imprisonment. DSK at the time was considered the rising star in the world of European monetary policy and politics. So much so that he was also considered a credible challenge to Nicolas Sarkozy for the French presidency. In a blink of an eye all that was wiped from the ledgers. And none seemed more surprised than DSK himself. In retrospect – all with good reason.

With little fanfare (for it doesn’t make as delectable a story for the main stream media as the original accusation) DSK was cleared. The case against him? Dropped. His name, career, political aspirations? Gone. As we now know he was replaced with a far more “banker” friendly head Christine Lagarde. Conspiracy? Who knows. However let me put two illustrations of statements for context. One is from 2010 when DSK was in a position of banking power when crisis and words from a “banker” meant far more than just words.

From an article by Buffin Partners Inc. April 2010

“On the topic of improving the IMF’s role in crisis prevention, he proposed a new multilateral surveillance procedure to assess the systemic effects of a country’s policies so as to complement the fund’s country-level surveillance and the efforts of the G-20, with its mutual assessment Process. There is a widely-held view that the IMF needs to improve its understanding and oversight of how risk spreads through the global financial system, and in particular, to monitor the largest complex financial institutions engaged in international finance. Mr. Strauss-Kahn has identified a number of measures to improve the role of the IMF in any future system-wide financial crisis, including substantial increases in the speed, coverage and size of IMF lending, and the provision of short-term multi-country credit lines. The IMF is also engaged in research studies on how to make its flexible credit line more effective and how to collaborate with regional reserve pools such as the European Union.”

Here’s something to contrast it with in regards to today’s Lagarde in December of 2014:

“International Monetary Fund (IMF) Managing Director Christine Lagarde praised the measures that the European Central Bank (ECB) has taken to combat the crisis and urged governments of the need to implement fiscal policies in order to support growth. In a speech given on Tuesday at the Bocconi University in Italy, Lagarde defined the ECB’s steps in recent months as “bold” and insisted that the Eurozone central bank needed to “continue to play a crucial role in supporting demand”.

It would seem at first glance one wants to have their hand in both the baking as well as within the cookie jar, while the other will use their hands to praise the baker for the cookies contained within. Regardless of what they taste like.

Distinction without a difference? Sure. But the real distinction is the one who wanted to help control the “baking” process in less than 12 months after that statement was both politically, as well as publicly, wiped from the face of the Earth in disgrace. The other would go on to replace him in both areas of importance seemingly right at the “best of times.” Like I said “who knows.” But it makes for great conversation no?

So let’s move back into today with the SNB decision and the “set up” hypothesis. What would this move do that would reward the party responsible for the “set up”?

It may very well solve an issue that scared the implementer far more than the SNB. And that issue just might be where the “Full Monty” monetary bazooka that was about to be revealed, was in fact, going to be witnessed for all to see  – a pee-shooter. In other words, possibly far more restrained in nature by what the German (imposed) side of the argument would allow. And nothing brings the fear of losing one’s “omnipotence” more than needing to actually show it and there’s no there – there. Again.

Maybe the monetary threat of words this time were directed at the only place where words still might matter (for that’s all he has left) i.e., Directly at the Swiss as to make them cower into monetary panic.

The ECB would clearly know what would happen to the SNB if it were to release monetary mayhem with a its own version of QE with the Swiss Franc peg. Yet, how could one resolve the dilemma of efficacy if that so-called bazooka wasn’t as grand as its been suggested?

What if you could convince another monetary body (the SNB) into an outright panic; relieving your own condition? Regardless if the assistance it allows one (the ECB) for more time is temporary or not. For the key is – additional time. Any amount of time is better than none. For the implications of “no more time” are far too consequential for the ECB as a whole.

So now you get the benefit of a falling Euro that makes your exports more competitive. You also add into the collective narrative or thought process that if the Swiss could “leave” the Euro behind, maybe it indeed wouldn’t be so bad for the Euro Zone if Greece leaves. All at the same time slaying that one adversary loathed by politicians and “bankers” alike: Shorts. As in those “evil currency speculators” as deemed by the body politic.

A great many Shorts in one fell swoop have been annihilated. The body count of just how many along with how wide-spread is still an ongoing process and might be not known for months.

Add onto all of this it allows the ECB to now mince or parse its words in a fashion unimaginable just a mere week ago. Now it allows the “storytelling” to begin once again in earnest. Themes like: “Well we were ready to unleash a QE program of significant magnitude. However, with the recent events such as those displayed by the SNB we’ve now sided on the side of a more “cautious” stance. And in that theme, we are announcing a modified significantly downsized version of QE and will keep our “powder dry” and ready to deploy if and when we see the circumstances arise. For after all…what is one to do in such a circumstance? Blah, blah, blah…” Get the picture?

All conjecture, innuendo, skullduggery, conspiracy laden and more I’ll admit. However, it’s thought experiments like this that helps one garner or fortify their ability to “see around corners” for possible warnings when everyone is driving along with blinders paying no attention.

As plausible or not as the above may appear. What all this monetary malfeasance has wrought in one form or another is the fact (not conjecture et al) outside forces and power players looking to enhance their own positions in the monetary world are going to strike. And strike at the most inopportune times for those that believe “they” are in control. i.e. A real New World Order evolving and circumventing the current. e.g., The BRICS and PIIGS led by China and Russia.

Currently Russia and China have been a little more than “friendly” to each other. They have opened up trade along with establishing non-dollar backed agreements. What Russia has also done in the process of the current oil collapse is demonstrated it will (not just words but with action) allow Europe to freeze.

What does that demonstrate? Well it shows unequivocally Russia is willing to do things that might hurt its bottom line in ways the West would have a heart attack just contemplating. Never mind acting out.

Do you think Russia did that during a 50% drop in oil revenue because it was a smart “business” decision? Or, was it to show in great detail to anyone that its willing to demonstrate for all to observe what a true Machiavelli inspired move looks like?

If you’ve ever been in a real stakes game of power that move was not lost upon you. And, for any sane thinking person – it should scare the crap out of you. That move was a deliberate “show of force” in more ways than one. Yet, from what I’ve read in our own press, the very people who should know the intent of it – seemed oblivious too it.

You now have Russia signalling to Greece if were to leave the Euro Zone it would in-turn lift agricultural importing restrictions. And what exchange of currency you think will resolve itself to play out there? Drachma vs Dollars? Euros? Of course not, Obviously Rubles but how about the Chinese Yuan also? Why not? Euro Zone one down – 18 more to go.

If you do have Greece exit the Euro Zone how soon before Spain, Italy, Portugal, or who knows who else will be first to the line. Once one makes the move – the next comes sooner and faster. Just look to the recent comments from the Bank of Japan only days later after the SNB for a hint.

Dominoes in these types of circumstances fall quick; especially if they are fueled by people in desperate circumstances (such as countries in fiscal ruin). And we forget all too fast how one triggering event changes everything in a nano second.

Take the once previous unthinkable reality such as when Roger Bannister broke the 4 minute mile barrier. Before he did it, it was believed physically impossible. After? Within a year you needed to keep a list. That’s how fast the “unthinkable” can turn into the probable – forget possible.

Add too this the great rhetorical speeches that will befall on any country in need from escaping the U.S. Federal Reserve’s influence (or heavy hand) of monetary policy. e.g., “Why should your economies falter and your people suffer so that the U.S. can supply its population with free goods, free money, free healthcare while your economies suffer at the hand of their Dollar policy. Join us and forget the U.S. what has NATO done for you lately? Poland, I ask you…still feel the U.S. has your back? How about you others? How much more pain will your economies suffer at the cost to save the Euro/American empire? We left and things are getting better by the day with others like yourself joining we become even more self determinant. Is China, or Russia, or India, or ____________(fill in the blank) not a real economy? What say you?”

As fanciful or improbable as that may sound how about the other quite real possibility where China states something along the lines of: And we’ll buy all your debt. All you have to do is set up trade using our currency rather than theirs.

In that moment everything changes, and that moment is far closer to reality than the Federal reserve making the case that it can unwind its balance sheet without difficulties. Think about it.

Many will scoff and say, “Sure, but the U.S. has the military might which also helps protect that dollar status in the world. And currently there is no other military capable of dethroning the U.S. as a superpower.

Yes. that’s true. However, China is an economic superpower without a superpower military. Russia has a superpower equivalent force with rich natural resources. And they basically just aligned themselves at the hip with recent trade deals and more as to exclude the dollar. Do you think this was all just for a better pricing on an import or export?

As I said earlier nothing sets a discussion on fire than waving the conspiracy banner. Although I’m not what one would call a “conspiracy theorist” what I am quite fond of that’s helped me throughout my career is looking at situations where everyone else has deemed them as “can only mean this” and ponder why can’t it mean this? Or that?

For as many times as I’ve been told “this is the only way” more often than not: what was never considered as plausible turned out to be exactly what took place.

Some call it being a contrarian, some the Devil’s advocate. Either way you slice it can help open up some unforeseen possibilities that others either miss outright or worse – turn a blind eye in their surety that “It just couldn’t happen.”

As I stated it’s an invaluable way to look at issues where even if all they are, are just implausible or improbable realities, at the very least; one has had the mental exercise to help bolster those reasons of why or why not. Rather than blindly race off nonchalant only to find potholes, construction barriers, or worse –  a bridge out sign with no road left for stopping.

© 2015 Mark St.Cyr

F.T.W.S.I.J.D.G.I.G.T.

(For those who say I just don’t get it…get this!)

Many times I’ve tried to express why I feel it’s important to be at “the tip of the spear” as opposed to the “cutting edge.” Yes, it’s only a metaphor however, it is a distinction with a difference.

If you’re the “tip” how you view along with how you perceive movements whether it be for business, life, or any other subject matter means: you have to take your cues from what you perceive as a valuable insight. And many times you’ll find it’s you, and you alone.

However, as of this writing, just a few points I’ve made over the last few months are beginning to show there is a dramatic change along with financial tremors in what many perceived as “contained contagion” rearing its head.

Today’s announcement from the Swiss National Bank to “un-peg” the Swiss Franc from the Euro is not just a “change” in policy that will reverberate throughout the financial markets. It’s a change that will have “reverberations” felt markets wide, globally, with aftershocks currently unpredictable in size and magnitude.

As I’ve said before, “Watch the Forex markets for you first clues” and here we have more than a clue.

Here’s a few quotes from a few articles I’ve penned over just the last few months. Even as recently as yesterday I was more or less regarded as a “Chicken Little.” Although I’ve always argued against such an insinuation, what I will say is many that called me a “Chicken” are now finding out is was them that had more in common with a bird – with their heads in the sand.

 

From Dec. 28, 2014 “From Land Of Opportunity To…..”

“Interest rate cutting and more money printing won’t help next time. You’ll need far more tools than just a printing press, for the rest of the world is not going to bear that burden any further. The currency markets won’t allow it.”

 

From Sept. 16, 2014 “This week 4C’s That Could Change The Financial…..”

“Just how does the Federal Reserve handle such a dilemma of this scale? I use the word “scale” for good reason. As many may know the Forex markets dwarf what the lovingly referred to as “mom and pop investor” believe it to be.

The saving of the “stock market” (aka the Equity Markets) in 2008 vs a Forex market crisis is the equivalent of bailing out a local bingo hall as compared to dealing with such a crisis on the scale of Las Vegas casino.

If the Forex market suddenly gets rocked with a clear fundamental breakdown and breakup of everything now known as the E.U. Along with all the tentacle entangled carry trades? Crisis might be an understatement.

Contagion across the Forex exchanges will not only wreak havoc from within it will also spread directly to the Bond markets. (which many don’t realize is also considerably larger themselves than the equity markets)

Such sweeping turmoil will most assuredly plunge the equity markets themselves into complete and utter chaos as money managers, market makers, margin executives and more decree: “Sell Everything, Close Everything, Now!”

Today all bets are off on exactly what a Central Bank anywhere will both do, as well as have the ability to underpin. (Yes, I believe the Swiss National Bank story is that big for it changes everything.)

From Dec. 6, 2014 “We Forget All Too Fast Just How…..”

“Currently as oil prices plummet the outcry over whether it’s an immediate “tax break” to consumers is also flaring up with just as much furor. The “they’ll spend it during the holidays” vs “they’ll use it to pay down debt” is just as fiery as well as debatable.

Again, no one truly knows until after the fact, and we’ll see it in the numbers. Yet, just like the scenario above, what one doesn’t need to wait for is the fact that maybe – just maybe – we have a card in our back-pocket for once that we can use within our price tolerances where we aren’t held for ransom or extortionist prices on a whim by others.

However, when I made the claim earlier about a two-sided coin as well as a double-edged sword it was truly intentional as the example. For if there is one outcome based on a two-sided coin, as one side wins while the other means losing. The ability to be cut with both sides of the same blade one should infer, one way or another – you’re going to get cut. It’s just a degree of how bad that needs to be calculated and guarded against.

What we don’t know or can’t see in as far as “what’s there under the sands” we can more than make up for in true clarity what’s on the financial books. i.e., The high yield bonds funding it all.”

As of today, High Yield Credit is flashing warning signs so much so that some already can not rollover debt on equitable terms. Rig Counts are falling at a dramatic pace, as well as layoffs.

 

From Nov. 30, 2014 “The Increasing Cracks In The Silicon Valley…..”

“Remember my assertions – It’s not about making a profit in business, it’s now only about the business in making an “investment” profit. As I’ve reiterated repeatedly, the business per se is irrelevant – it’s all about can the business “story” be sold to Wall Street. Then who gives a rats arse how the story ends, that’s for the poor saps that bought into it, not us. We cha-chinged out!

Increasingly the proverbial “cha-ching” machine is growing more silent. One would think with the markets once again pushing beyond stratospheric levels into black sky territory that the deals would just keep coming. Well, they are yet again there seems to be something a little different in the ways these deals are coming forward than previous.

To the casual observer one might think “they’re doing more deals than ever before!” Yet, what may seem as an uptick might be more of an illusion. More in a shorter time span doesn’t necessarily mean “more.” What it could be signalling is a rush to get as many in as soon as possible because there just might be “no moar.”

Now you have some eye widening confirmation as reported by Medium.com “The Era of Angels is Closing”

 

From  Nov. 20, 2014 “Why Tony Robbins Is Asking The Wrong…..”

“The real issue at hand from my point of view is this: Looking for answers to both financial safety as well as financial freedom in the same light or viewpoint where it seems one only needs to “think like a billionaire” or “tweak” or “slightly modify” perceptions on how one approaches these financial markets today – will hurt more than it will help.

The markets for all intents and purposes are no longer for the “average” person looking to make gains in any form today. What is needed now more than ever is a direct understanding that safety – safety above all else – is paramount. And exactly how one can achieve it. Or get as close to the proverbial “cash in the mattress” understanding of it as humanly possible.

The idea of “diversification” is a great sounding idea in principle and theory. However, it is one of the greatest myths when it comes to protecting one’s assets in today’s financial market place aka Wall Street.”

As of this writing the changes that just took place within the Forex markets may be far more systemic and fundamentally changing to the equity markets as they stand today. So much so that “thinking like a billionaire” is going to be more like putting one’s head in their hands and just hoping and praying things work out alright.

And that’s no way to invest, run a business, or move through life.

© 2015 Mark St.Cyr

Just An Observation

Partying – I get it. And yes there was a time not all that long ago I lived it. However, there is a real change in the way partying, celebrating and a whole lot more has changed today than just a few years back. Especially when it comes to any form of “championship” styled celebratory acts. i.e., National championships, Super Bowl™ or other type of venue.

Last night where I live a celebration took place when The Ohio State Buckeyes won the National Championship for college football. A great accomplishment and well deserves kudos. However, the celebration of the so-called “fans” here in the city – not so much.

Last night to break up, as well as contain the “celebration” from getting even more out of hand, police on horseback, riot protective gear, along with the use of tear gas and more was needed to disperse and end the “festivities.” Yet, as seemingly uncommon as such a spectacle should be, it now seems the norm.

Over the last few years I’ve taken residence in two different cities. One is Lexington, KY the other is Columbus, OH. Both are great cities with vibrant college campuses. When I first moved to Lexington their basketball and football teams at UK (Wildcats) were floundering. Then within a year they changed coaches and the basketball team went on to win everything. The celebration afterwords? Overturned cars, fires, and a whole lot of other bedlam that left the area a mess.

Now here I am once again in the same situation within just 3 years. Once again the result? Tear gas, public drunkenness, vandalism, and who knows what else. Again, so much so – that tear gas was needed to be used. This is a “Woo Hoo let’s celebrate!” for today’s so-called fans? Really?

This isn’t just for college either. It wasn’t all that long ago in my home area of Boston MA. When the Red Sox finally won their first championship in nearly forever the “celebration” needed to be met once again with , riot police, tear gas, and what ever else was needed to help restore order to a crowd that seemed intent on literally burning the city down to show their “love” for the team. I mean it’s just nuts, if not down right crazy in my opinion.

I also find it quite perplexing how those that scream “police are acting heavy-handed” are also far and away at the center of absolute bedlam and mayhem where the only way to control and keep them from tearing a city down is the need to use or deploy tear gas.

Remember, I’m talking about a celebration here. Not something to be confused with any form of protests.

If getting older means I have enough common sense to stay away from anything now deemed “we won!” Then maybe I grew up more in line to what my mother would remind me demonstrates class, or manners.

For it sure looks like a lot of people have either forgot – or just never had them.

© 2015 Mark St.Cyr

The Fed. Is Losing If Not Already Lost Control

We witnessed a few things for the start of 2015 in the financial markets that were unlike any previous. The first three days of the new year produced the worst three-day stint in the markets – ever. A meaningless, insignificant, trivial, data point? Possibly. However, when it coincides with other noticeable factors taking place across the financial spectrum It behooves any thinking person to sit up and take notice. (Unless you’re the next scheduled appearing CNBC™ “Everything’s Awesome!” fund manager. Then it’s more like a Servpro™ tag line: Like it never even happened.)

The reason why this sell-off in conjunction with its timing raises eyebrows is its direct proximity to the release of the latest FOMC meeting and conference. Here was where markets were supposed to get their “guiding principles” for how to proceed into the new year.

What they seemed to get was nothing more than gobly goop. The all fearing word “patient” reared its supposed vampire slaying head, but instead of replacing the soothing phrase of “considerable time,” it was added too. This in-turn sent some very expensive headline reading HFT computers, along with some very expensive highly paid fund managers into a “Huh what?” state of confusion.

Was the language (as well as the delivery channel) intentionally meant to cause confusion? Possibly. For if one understands how those in the world of “policy wonk” think: Language and the parsing of it will/should only be interpreted in the way those that are writing and delivering it want it too – at any given moment of time.

So they bend and twist every possible meaning into a statement, rather than wring confusion out. This way when the desired action isn’t forthcoming one can always state, “Oh, well I didn’t intend that to mean this, I meant it to be read as that. See!”

This only works when nobody’s really paying attention. But when people are, and real consequences are on the line (as in billions if not trillions of dollars) confusion, double-speak, and the like sets into action a multitude of unintended consequences which the once “masters of communication” never envisioned.

Let’s put into perspective a few items that’s appeared on the screens for both those at the Federal Reserve as well as all those “Everything is awesome” camped fund managers that owe their 2014 bonuses too of late.

First we have the collapse of oil. Good thing for the consumer. Of course. Good for the economy as a whole? Sure, in some areas of business there will be considerable cost saving benefits. However, in other areas it is beginning to show signs of great stress. Primarily in the areas where the latest true growth of late took place: in the areas affiliated to anything relating to oil exploration of any type. Not only here in the U.S. but globally as well.

The real issue of concern for those at the Fed (which one has to assume they are more than aware of) are the stresses continuing to mount within the High Yield credit market. A market in which they are directly responsible for malfeasance with its proportionate risk-taking.

This is where the demand for yield trade was pushed by a Fed. that was relentless on keeping interest rates at the Zero bound. Now that market along with its inter-tangled web of cross, carry, swaps, you name it derivative trades is beginning to buckle. This is one of just a myriad of concerns that must be making all Fed. participants uncomfortable.

You know what is also a factor in driving down the price of oil separate from the underlying weakness that is truly within the global economy? A stronger Dollar. And guess what’s getting stronger by the week? That’s correct the U.S. Dollar. Why?

Well there are a host of reasons and most of them are nothing more than the equivalent of the old saying “It’s the cleanest shirt in the dirty laundry.” That said it should not be underestimated just how dirty the surrounding laundry can get. Especially if more wide-spread fears come into play. And rest assuredly it seems not a case of “if” fears occurs but we are much, much closer: to when.

Remember, the stated intention of the Federal Reserve’s intervention into the capital markets was to help foster a targeted 2% inflation rate. You know what throws all of that out the proverbial window? A rising dollar. The dollar has gained so much strength over the these last few months it is at levels not seen since the financial crisis began. So much for the omnipotence of a Fed. policy hitting it’s target with precision no? But wait…There’s more! (sorry, couldn’t help myself)

How about that latest employment data? Wasn’t it just the best?! The unemployment rate dropped down to (wait for it…) 5.6%. That’s one of the lowest rates again since the crisis began. A number far closer to (and possibly even sooner) of hitting the Fed’s number of “full employment.”

However, hidden within that report were a few other dirty little secrets. As the number of “Mission accomplished” for the Fed. notched closer, the number of long-term unemployed jumped to its highest in decades. As reported by ZeroHedge™ Record 92.9 Million Americans Not In Labor Force.

However shocking as that number is to any American, it’s probably not as shocking (or panic filling) as another number contained within that report to the very people fueling this economy with KoolAid®.

That number is the one that showed wage growth (e.g. average hourly earnings. a requisite data point in calculating inflation) printed not the expectations for an increase of 0.02%. But rather: a decrease of -0.02%!

All that money printing. All that balance sheet inflation (the only place where true inflation is currently) and the result to show on the final report of the year? A year when QE has now been shelved. It can’t even get a print of flat?! Never mind an increase.

And this data point is essential in helping make the argument that interventionist monetary policies resulted in the desired effect of an omnipotent Federal Reserve. What are we to hear at the next press conference: “Ooopsy?”

Once again we saw Fed. officials take to the airwaves in any way, shape, manner, or form to get a message out that whatever you thought was intended for the messaging from Chair Yellen’s last conference might be “misinterpreted.”

instead of a non-voting member it must have been decided with both the release of the latest minutes in conjunction with the subsequent release of other government data points – it was time to get the word out and proclaim that a raise in rates would be a “catastrophe.” But this time it must be said by a voting member for true accountability.

Once again as the markets showed weakness and didn’t seem to get that resounding “seal of approval” in response to the release of the Fed.’s minutes, non other than a voting member of the committee speaking during a forum in Chicago was reported to proclaim “raising rates would be a catastrophe.” That statement at around 8pm EST sent a highly illiquid overnight futures market soaring. The result was a near 2% rally.

Now let me ask you a question dear reader: Why does one believe the word “catastrophe” was used? Hmmmmm? After all, the very articulated and polished minutes of what members expressed to one another as to set the current policy was just made public.

Where was the argument or verbiage contained within of a voting member stating that the raising of rates would be a “catastrophe?” I thought the verbiage of choice was now “patient.” Unless…

You know you’ve either lost, or in the process, of losing control of the markets ear. Where now one has to resort to playing the HFT headline reading algo sham as an extension of policy control and effect. Which moves us into very dangerous territory in my opinion.

The Federal Reserve is unwittingly placing on full display they have nothing more left in their monetary policy bag of tricks other than to play a very, very dangerous game via “off the reservation” styled comments from both non-voting as well as voting members. That, or the subsequent Hilsenrath release of what they really meant to say was this – not that.

In my opinion, this is an unveiled showing of possible out right panic developing behind the proverbial curtain. Why? Because it seems the Fed. is becoming increasingly aware not only that it’s on its own. But what might be worse is in their realization not only are they up a creek without a paddle, but their once reliable QE paddle will not help is the deluge from more turbulent waters which may be released at any given movement into this once insinuated “controllable” safe harbor. The possible oncoming storms are putting all that thinking once again to the test.

The Euro Zone is once again back on display. And what’s not on stage is what I would venture to guess was a presumed Fed.’s “Ace in the hole” Mario Draghi and his “what ever it takes” bazooka of monetary mayhem. Suddenly it seems no one wants to either hear or see a “Full Monty” by the ECB. At least how it was once first interpreted.

Currently not only has the situation in Greece deteriorated for its argument to stay within the Euro Zone (EZ). But now you are hearing more arguments from those within it of “We’ll be fine. Don’t let the door hit you…” Not something I would guess the Fed. imagined would take place just as it decided it would wind down QE.

And the reports of how Mr. Draghi is viewing the idea can not be rest assuring to the Fed. either I’ll speculate. Especially when it’s now rumored (or more apt to be real) that he wants out of the ECB and wants to return to Italy for a possible political run.

One of those seemingly to be voicing louder (and louder) that the Euro Zone could quite possibly use a shake up in one form or another – is Germany. And what Germany says means a whole lot more too what will, or wont happen in the EZ than what Mario might say currently. Especially if there is a hint (any hint) that he may decide to bolt.

Let’s not forget all the other ancillary data points that are far too numerous to list today. But just one that should be front and center when you’re asked if you want your very own fresh glass of “Everything’s Awesome KoolAid” is everything you’ve been told about China and all their continuing growth.

Remember, China is the repository of preordained data points. Preordained as in “it is what they say it will be. Regardless of factual evidence.” They’re now continually reporting a declining GDP rate. And they don’t care if the numbers are real. Yet, they are willing to print contraction? What does that tell you at first blush? So much for China saving the economy meme I guess.

That one fact stands on its own. Let alone the possibility of outright defaults occurring in sovereign debt in places like Russia, Venezuela, Greece, or a host of others. Yep, nothing to see here. Move along, thank you. Would you like more punch?

In retrospect I guess I do have to agree with the most relevant word put forth from a Federal Reserve official as of late. “Catastrophe” might be exactly what is on the horizon. However, not for the reasons first intended by that speaker, but for the policies they’ve allowed to go on for so long thinking they were the one’s controlling the beast.

The “catastrophe” will be what all of us will have to deal with in the aftermath once it’s realized this monster they’ve created won’t care nor listen to any words its creators speak once the cage door is found unlocked, or unhinged.

That will be where the word “catastrophe” will really find its true relevance as a descriptor.

© 2015 Mark St.Cyr

 

There Are No Guarantees – Just Requirements For Probabilities

Many talk about making decisions as if “just the act of making it” solves most issues of indecision. It doesn’t.

Not only does one need to make decisions at critical times, one must also know why they are making those very decisions while being fully prepared to live with the consequences if those decisions don’t bear the fruit they originally thought. If not – one is setting up for a lifetime of would’a, could’a, should’a thinking. And that’s one limb of a decision tree you don’t ever want to climb out on.

This is why you need to understand why you’re making a decision or decisions. It’s not just in the approach but rather; you need to be able to fully accept the consequences of those decisions. For it is the only part of the process that will save your sanity if or when things don’t work out as you either hoped, or planned. For when it doesn’t turn out like you thought but you continue to stick to your original decision with eyes wide open, is when you’ll have your first true indication (as well as true test) on whether you’ve made the correct decisions or on the correct path.

You can always re-evaluate and adjust if needed of course. But the original premise I’m trying to convey stands as paramount.  Again, you can always reevaluate a past decision and change course. But the same reasoning’s as to why needs to be answered in conjunction and truthfully. Not something willy-nilly as if deciding whether to have chocolate or vanilla ice cream.

Let me share one of my own instances of what I’m trying to express so that maybe you may gain further insight when you are faced with important decisions in your own matters…

In the early 90’s I was for what many would equate (to use a sports analogy) as to playing AA baseball in the music business. For those not familiar AA is the minor leagues where many athletes with real potential play before being called up to the Majors such as the Red Sox et al.

During this time I was also pursuing my business goals. Suddenly, once again, I had what felt like my umpteenth kick in the teeth. I had a falling out with a partner within a business venture that was in many ways groundbreaking and difficult. I poured myself completely into the project and it become a great success against incredible odds. Then, others became involved against my wishes and feelings soured. Rather than make enemies I divorced myself from the business leaving me unemployed, uninspired and discouraged.

During this time as I said earlier I was still playing music. The month after I left I decided along with a friend to do a show at a local venue. On a spur of the moment we gave the band a name, decided who else we would have in that band, wrote a set list, and booked a gig.

Sounds pretty ordinary but let me add some facts to this mix so one can understand better the gravity and perplexity of trying to make the “right decision” when a decision was needed.

A good crowd for any band just created, even with members that are locally known would be a few hundred. Our one show with no publicity, where there wasn’t even a band 30 days prior, put a line down the boulevard and total attendance was just under 1000 in a venue not designed for such a crowd. It was an amazing night. So amazing the owner of a competing club on the other side of town begged us to do one at his. (this was originally only to be a one night thing)

We played that club two weeks later with the same results. It was absolutely stunning and it was in the dead of winter which made it all the more memorable. Was this a sign? Now it was question and answer time for me: What was I going to do next? Pursue business? (entrepreneurship) Or music?

As I stated earlier I had been recently (once again) disappointed business-wise. Music seemed as if it was showing me the way. However, just like business, I had my teeth kicked in a few times there also over the years. Yet, a decision needed to be made and the prospects for either were in many ways the same for me.

There were, and are no guarantees, but one would think giving the above I must have chosen music. I didn’t. I decided entrepreneurship or business was the choice – and made it.

Now stick with me for I know this may sound like it’s off topic, but I can assure you it’s not. You’ll understand more as you read further.

This is where my circumstances are a little different from most people. For what happened to me shows in vivid detail the reasons why I say, “You must not only decide your path clearly. But (and it’s a very big but) you must have the fortitude to be comfortable with that decision. For it’s easy to say OK this is it! However, to continue down that path is a whole n’ther matter when everything seems to be going not as well as one anticipated.”

At this time I was helping my friend who was my counterpart in that band at a restaurant he owned. Basically, I was just killing time as I sort things out. Another friend was also helping out intermittently. (Although it was a local popular restaurant in Lawrence, it was more like “our family hangout.” If a waitress didn’t show any of us would fill in. Same with a dishwasher. It’s just how we were.)

We all would talk (especially about the music business) and I made my plans known that I was no longer going to be perusing music as a career and was going in a different direction. Another friend of mine (who also had moderate success) shared he was going full tilt (in music) and if it didn’t work – so be it. But he was going for it. All of us understood the meanings of our decisions and were resolved. For we knew the decision was here and needed to be answered. And each did.

After my decision things went far from rosy. There were many, many more kicks in not only the teeth but other body areas. The same was happening with him as well. It looked like we were both on paths to nowhere, but they were the paths we chose.

As hard and as grueling with what might be seen in retrospect as “a road to nowhere” we both pressed on. Success was not guaranteed, only the making of the decision, and being able to stick by that decision while accepting the consequences if failure was the result.

There are no guarantees – just the requirement along with the understanding of knowing why you’re doing it. Only with this true understanding in your gut will it help you toward reaching those goals or successes when everything seems to be going the wrong way.

Suddenly for what seemed like a lifetime of more hard knocks and kicks there was finally a break. Not for me, but my friends. Too my delight I heard the news Godsmack was to play at Woodstock. Yes, those friends of mine who earlier were just like me wondering whether to go this way or that were rewarded with playing what many of us dreamed of as kids. Woodstock! Then it was onto others such as OzFest, world tours, hit singles, Grammy™ nominations and more.

However, when it came to my own situation those kinds of rewards were not panning out. As a matter of fact it seemed as if there were people painting more and more bulls-eyes on my body parts for people too kick!

It was not a very good time for me. Yet, what never crossed my mind, and what I was actually grateful for was my resolve that I made my decision (and understood it along with the possible consequences where I could live with myself) and could now revel in their success. For if I had not – I would have begun a life long question and answer battle of misery within myself of “would’a, should’a, could’a.”

I like anyone else had all the fuel one would need to burn a life long candle to re-read my minds pondering of: For only if I had made the decision to stay in music! Maybe I would’ve had similar success! And, it would have ruined my life.

There is no way of ever knowing if I could have reached any level of their success in music. Yet, there is an absolute guarantee had I viewed it via a “would’a, could’a, should’a” mindset – I would have lived a life of misery far worse than a life where success may not have shown. Yet, I never once felt jaded by life. I knew I had made my choices along with my decisions and needed to keep pressing on in my own adventures.

Again, in that “knowing” of what I was doing, and what I needed to pursue was the definitive reason I was able as I said earlier “to revel,” and be happy for them as they grew into the world band they are today. Had I not you wouldn’t be reading or hearing from me today.

Only with my own decisions firmly in hand while doing what I needed and decided to do, were the doors opened for where I decided to venture. For eventually as evidenced by your reading this – they finally did.

© 2015 Mark St.Cyr