Rick Rule’s Top 4 Trades – My Life in 4 Trades Podcast

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Why Rick Rule Likes Trading Natural Resource Securities

  • They are cycles that are fairly predictable and repeatable.
  • They are relatively simplistic and easy to understand for most investors/people.

Top Takeaways

Losing Trade #1 Takeaways – The 1970s

  • Don’t confuse a bull market with brains.
  • Markets are messy, but they work.

Losing Trade #2 Takeaways – The Heating Oil Business

  • Lousy businesses are seldom actually cheap.
  • Never count on a management team acting rationally without knowing their incentives.

Winning Trade #1 Takeaways – Copper in Congo

  • The people you invest in matter.
  • Political risk is where and how you find opportunities.

Winning Trade #2 Takeaways – Uranium Investment

  • The price of something that must go up, will go up at some point in time, but expect volatility.
  • When the price does go up to what you predicted, you must sell. If you confront victory, you have to accept it.

Podcast Transcript Excerpt

MAGGIE LAKE 

What was it about natural resources that attracted you in the first place?

RICK RULE  

The fact that they are, there are very broad base cycles that are fairly predictable. And repeatable meant that unlike in some other businesses, you learn lessons once and they’re enduring over time. When I look back at the people from Silicon Valley, who went into technology based businesses, well, that’s been spectacular for them. I would probably myself be uncomfortable investing in businesses with 18 month or 24 month product cycles in sectors that I could neither pronounce nor spell, the simplicity of natural resources. And the natural resource cycles, has proven to be very useful to be over time

MAGGIE LAKE  

Let’s jump into the first trade. So this first trade stands out for you. It was an all levered bet, in the 70s, on the resource bull market, set the scene for us, what was happening at that time?

RICK RULE  

Well, the 1970s was, at least in my lifetime, the greatest bull market in resources that has probably been experienced in humankind. If you go back a bit, to say, the 1930s 1930s 1940s 1950s 1960s, society as a whole, under invested in natural resources, there was a few things that got in the way, the Great Depression, World War two, little things like that, you know. And the consequence of that is that humankind wasn’t investing in the productive capacity around the stuff that allowed material standards of living to increase. While at the end of World War Two, the world began a demographic boom, not merely in the United States in Europe, but really around the world. The upshot of that was increasing demand for stuff, and decreasing availability of stuff with an overlay of inflation, which made existing productive capacity more valuable because it raised the cost of establishing competing capacity. So the decade of the 1970s saw the emergence of the resource narrative, the Club of Rome narrative, you’re too young to remember that. But the big thinkers of the world, the Jeremy Rifkin and the Jimmy Carter’s and all of those morons, decided that the Malthusian outcome was going to occur, they boldly predicted that by the year 2000, there would be no fuel there would be no food and that scarcity would dominate. In fact, the decade of the 70s saw the gold price rise from an admittedly price controlled $35 An ounce to $850 an ounce, saw the oil price advance from two and a half dollars to $30. The natural gas price advanced from 30 cents to in the case of decontrol deep natural gas $15. I could go on and on and on 

MAGGIE LAKE  

Huge gain

RICK RULE 

Huge, huge, huge, huge increases. Being a young man, hubris ridden like many young men are if they enjoy too much early success, I inexplicably confused the bull market with brains. In other words, thought the fact that I did well during the period and 70s had something to do with me, young competitors of mine at that point in time, mostly male, because that’s the way finance was oriented. We’re in a truly ugly financial market with the interest rate rising bonds were getting killed, stocks were getting killed. The only young person that I knew that was making any money at all was me. And I confused a bull market with brains.

 

MAGGIE LAKE  

So you were doing well, you were doing very well at this point

 

RICK RULE  

Quite well, quite well. It’s you know, it’s sort of tough to make a mistake when your basic product goes from two and a half dollars to $30. You could fail but it would take real special skill.

 

MAGGIE LAKE  

And are you working in a trading firm? Or where are you working at this point?

 

RICK RULE  

I was doing everything going through university, I actually ended up buying a bar and other hospitality facilities. And ironically, the out growth of that was that my success in the bar business attracted investors to myself in other businesses, and initially they made money and they wanted to ascribe the blame for them making money on my genius, which is something as a young man that I adopted, and actually came to believe in. I came to believe too in the prognostications of the big thinkers, the tendency to extend trends in motion ad nauseum. Meaning that the whole narrative around scarcity was very useful to me. I was told that I was going to be a blue eyed chic and that was an outcome that I liked. What I forgot Maggie was that markets work. The cure for high prices is always in everywhere high prices. Congress never has learned this but even a hubris ridden young man did learn it when the oil price goes from two and a half dollars to $30. In fact, people look for ways to conserve, they look for ways to substitute and the producers look for ways to produce more increasing production and decreasing the consumption begins to cure the underlying problem. And that happened when the great commodities bull market of the 1970s broke in late 1981. I found out just how smart I was, which is to say I went from being a very wealthy and very hubris ridden young man, to having a negative net worth on my 29th birthday. My investment goal went from surpassing the Rockefellers, to just getting back to broke, I knew that I had good earnings capability. And I had good discipline. And if I could just get myself back to broke my income over time would take care of itself. So I would say that my first great investment lesson was in the 1970s. And that lesson was that markets work so so your for high prices is high prices, and also that you need to maintain, personally, the same type of bullet proof balance sheet that you would prefer that the companies that you invest in have I decided in the latter half of the decade of the 70s, to increase debt as a part of my personal capital stack. And while it was fun on the way up, it was catastrophic on the way down.

 

MAGGIE LAKE 

So this is the levered part of that if you had not been so levered, It clearly would not have been so painful.

 

RICK RULE 

No, no, I wouldn’t have gone sub zero. You know, it takes real skill to parlay the type of advantage I had as a young man into disaster, but I was able to do it with the aid of leverage.

 

MAGGIE LAKE  

So when wake up, and you realize, first of all, was it very quick that you went underwater? Or was this a sort of slow decline? And you kept doubling down?

 

RICK RULE  

No, I saw it coming. I did see it coming. You know, I understood the nature of debt, which is to say, it’s capital that has to be paid back. And an oil and gas portfolio that services a bank loan very well at 25, or $30, has some problems at 12, or $15. And so the problem presented itself very dramatically. I was proactive, and I think lucky in that, once I saw what was happening to me, I rallied if that’s the right phrase, at least I assembled the most important backers and creditors that I had explained my position, and told them that I would work very hard to work it out that I would do my best not to go broke, and I would do my best to pay them back. Everything I owed them, including principal and interest. And luckily for me, they stood by me, 

 

MAGGIE LAKE  

Was it hard, hard to do that? I mean, I imagine you had to suck up a lot of pride.

 

RICK RULE  

Sucking up, the pride wasn’t so tough, that took place in the first sort of nine months. The idea where your goal is getting back to broke, is a little dispiriting. And certainly I didn’t want by then to disappoint the people who were supporting me, which is to say the people that I owed money to, by the way, an interesting sidebar is I think it was 1984. Maybe it was 1985. When I managed to repay my principal creditor, which was a bank, and six weeks later, the bank went broke. It doesn’t matter, I owed the money. I had to pay it back. But I always found it rather ironic that I struggled and scrimped for three years to repay an institution which subsequently defaulted on their own debt and extinguished their own shareholders. 

 

MAGGIE LAKE  

Yeah, that’s unkind timing isn’t it? So did this experience shake your confidence in yourself and your judgment?

RICK RULE  

It was pretty easy for me to understand the mistakes I made. It was pretty easy in hindsight, once I stepped back to understand that copper offered less utility to copper users at $1.60 a pound than it had at 30 cents a pound. That natural gas offered less utility users at $15 per million BTU than it had it 30 cents per million dollars BTU why it took me 10 years to learn that is something I’m still struggling with. But I did learn firsthand the nature of capital intensive cyclical businesses, which is to say that the cure for high prices are always high prices and markets however messy they are, always work. The truth is, or one of the unsung truths around natural resources is that when the companies appear to be cheap, which is to say when they have low P/E ratios, it’s because the E is high. And so ironically, a natural resource producer with a six or eight P/E can be more expensive than a natural resource producer with a 30 or 35. Pe, if that E is occurring at a period in time, where the commodity itself is enjoying unrealistically low prices. What happens in capital intensive cyclical businesses is that because they’re so capital intensive, when there’s an installed productive base, the owners of the productive base tend to produce down to and then through the marginal cost of production. So you can have commodities that are priced for a substantial period of time below total production cost. When the price of your product is on an industry wide basis, less than the cost of production, ironically, that’s a very bullish sign. Because either the prices go up, or mankind is deprived of access to an essential commodity, like natural gas as an example. So what I learned is, at least in capital intensive, cyclical resource businesses, you are either a contrarian or you are going to be a victim. Those are your two choices. And that lesson in the period 1982 to 2022, that simple lesson has been responsible for most of my success.

 

MAGGIE LAKE  

So you come out of this, you get back to broke. And you’re gonna continue on. The second trade that stands out for you, interestingly, is also a losing trade for all that you’ve learned heating oil partners. Talk to me about that one and why that stands out.

 

RICK RULE  

Yeah, so after I recovered my my reputation and some measure of my fortune in the 1980s. In addition to investing for my own account, I was fairly active as an advisor for others building, among other things, a small resource focused broker dealer. And one of the interests that many of my then older customers had was an income. And so I looked for arcane sources of consistent income. And one business that came to my attention was a business in a really declining sector, which I liked, I’m a contrarian, around heating oil. And this was a lousy business. I wasn’t attracted to it because it was a lousy business. But the fact that it was a lousy business made it appear cheap. The company distributed heating oil in the US upper midwest and in New England, and it had an interesting attribute, meaning that the producers of heating oil would give heating oil partners inventory on 90 day net basis which they would then sell to their customers on a 30 day net basis, which is to say that they had a positive float or differently, a negative cost of capital around inventory. It was also a business that as a consequence of vendor finance was fairly well leveraged, and the income stream was fairly consistent. What was troubling was that the business was too leveraged. Some of the leverage carried with it a higher coupon than the distribution to the partners in the business. And I was always thinking that if they de-levered, if they de-levered some first of all, the balance sheet would be stronger, of course. But also, ironically, the forgone interest could increase the distribution. And I always thought that despite the fact that I was in a business that overall wasn’t a very good business that if management acted rationally, that the business could improve. Management acting rationally turned out to be something beyond my control, I pointed out to them that they could deleverage. And I pointed out that I could provide the capital to deleverage, in other words, the means to cure the problem was within my control. And I believe that management would act rationally, management did not act rationally. And in one of the economic perturbations that hit the US in the early part of the 90s, the company actually succeeded against all odds and going broke, and I lost 100% of my money in that trade. The lessons, review the part on balance sheets, don’t go for bad balance sheets. Lousy businesses are seldom actually cheap. And never count on a management team acting rationally, if you don’t understand all their incentives.

 

MAGGIE LAKE  

if you don’t understand their incentives, because of course, we’re all wondering, why didn’t they take what seemed like an obvious play?

RICK RULE  

I wonder to this day, I wonder if they didn’t have a private equity offering in the background in bankruptcy, I know that I wasn’t invited to participate. I wasn’t a secured creditor. I wasn’t a creditor at all. I was a common shareholder, which is a different way of saying the victim.

MAGGIE LAKE 

So, let’s switch gears and talk a little bit about the winning because it’s interesting always to hear about the losing trades, because they do stay with you. But you’ve certainly had an enormous amount of winning trades. So I’m interested to hear why these two jumped out at you. Tenke mining is one. Talk to us about that. And what’s going on around that trade.

 

RICK RULE  

Yeah, I’ve tried to emphasize for traders I learned from that would be instructive to your listeners, as opposed to ones where the aggregate wins or the aggregate, well, certainly the aggregate loss relative to my net worth in the 1970s trade was the most dramatic. But Tenke has a great lesson there. Well, three lessons and I’ll give you some background. I had been aware all the way back to university that some of the best deposits for copper in the world were in Congo. But Congo was a problematic place. It had been the poster child for political risk, that is to say, corruption, ethnic tension, all that kind of stuff for 20 years. And it went from being horrific to worse. In the middle part of the 1990s. There was a civil war where it is estimated that 2 million people were killed. The consequence of the breakdown really of civilization method, additional scores of additional people were killed by AIDS, Ebola, malaria, you know, never mind the sort of violence. And so you couldn’t possibly arrive at a worse narrative. At the same point in time, the best undeveloped copper deposit in the world existed in southern Congo, at a mine called Tenke Fungurume. And that mine came to be under the control of one of the best private investors in the natural resource space, Adolf Lundeen, who built a large family fortune around extractive businesses often in our countries. When Mr. Lundeen came to control, Tenke Fungurume, he controlled it in a vehicle called Tenke mining trading on the Toronto Stock Exchange. And in the 1996 part of the civil war in Congo, when as an example, rape was being used as a tool of war, where warlords were competing not only with the central government, but with each other. I mean, it was truly horrific 2 million people getting killed as an example. Shares in Tenke mining fell to the point where the company had if my memory serves me correctly, 30 cents a share in cash was fronted by the first or second best family and natural resource finance worldwide, and owned 100% of the highest quality copper deposit in the world and the shares were selling for 19 cents a share. In other words, there was 30 cents a share selling for 19 cents a share. And I sort of decided that Congo notwithstanding, this was a circumstance where if the Lundeen’s could pull it out, that the stock would go from 20 cents a share to $3 a share 350 a share. And if it failed, it would go from 19 cents a share to zero. This would not have been the first time in my career where an exploration speculation went to zero. In other words, part of the game in high risk exploration is the willingness to take 50 or 60 or 70, or 100% losses. If the potential for reward is completely disconnected to the upside and the idea that I could get a $3 or $4 Return on a 19 cent stock or I could lose 19 cents, represented an interesting juxtaposition of risk reward, particularly because this 19 cent share had 30 cents a share cash in it. I had no financing risk for probably three years. In fact, the Congolese Civil War did sort itself out. The copper price went back up, and my 19 cent share if my memory serves me correctly, was bought out six years later for $16 per share the  lessons there were if you can take real, real real risk, if you right size, that risk to your portfolio. And if you can avail yourself of extraordinary upside rewards, there is a place in speculation for taking large risk, where the rewards associated with taking large risks amortize the failures that you experience elsewhere in your portfolio. The second lesson here is that people really matter. Very few people other than Adolf Lundeen, could have managed to simultaneously keep the warlords at bay and the government of Congo at bay, maintaining control of the deposit and ultimately bringing in one of the largest mining companies in the, world bhp as a partner. And finally, that political risk is where you find it and how you find it. It turns out, I’ve invested in Congo now for 30 years, it turns out that I have been more rewarded investing in Congo than I have in California.  It turns out that societies that need mining are more often more friendly to mining than societies that don’t need mining. And so political risk is where and how you find it. I’m not suggesting that people trot from country to country in search of revolutions, or civil wars, I’m merely suggesting that the idea that we have in the West, that political risk doesn’t look like us, is wrong. 

MAGGIE LAKE  

So some people would look at those and say, through an ethical lens, not just political risk lens, investing in those places carry its own challenge? 

 

RICK RULE  

I certainly agree with that. I look at it differently. I think that those of us who have the opportunity have an obligation to invest responsibly in cultures where that investment could make the greatest difference. I’m involved right now in Ivanhoe mining also Congo, in contango, and I note that inside the the mind fence, the prevailing wage is $50 a day and the incidence of AIDS Ebola COVID, virtually nil because of Western standards. Right outside the fence, the average wage is $5 a day. And the idea from an ESG perspective that if you have the opportunity to afford a culture the opportunity to advance, you do it. The second thing, Maggie, from an ethical perspective, is that 1.2 billion people on Earth have no access to electricity whatsoever. Another 2 billion people experience electricity or energy poverty, meaning they have intermittent or unaffordable electricity. One of the great accomplishments of humankind in the last 30 years has been the incredible advance that we’ve made in living standards in the bottom third of the population of the world. And for this to increase for their material living standards to increase. We need to keep supplies of material goods, fertilizers, food, the electric metals, energy at levels that are affordable to the bottom third of humankind, all those people, Maggie want to live like you and I. And over the last 30 years, we’ve made great strides in helping them help themselves to do so. But that fight continues, so ethically, should we be in Congo? Absolutely. 

 

MAGGIE LAKE  

When you’re looking at that stock at 19 cents, you know, facing the challenges, presumably, other people were looking at some of the same mathematical models you were, what do you think enabled you to see through and take that punt where others were not willing to go?

 

RICK RULE  

You know, Maggie, they weren’t. 

MAGGIE LAKE 

They weren’t seeing it. 

RICK RULE 

One of the things about narrative I do, like at least negative narrative was people looked at Congo, they looked at people dying on nightly news. And they didn’t look at the numbers. One of the things that you have to do as a speculator and I know that some of your audience is more investment oriented than speculatively oriented, one of the things that you have to do as a speculator is you have to calculate loss, which is to say, I am willing to put up a million dollars that I could afford to lose all of in hopes of turning that million dollars into $15 million, or $20 million. And you have to look at that part of your portfolio in a portfolio sense. Which is to say that you take disaggregated bets, where those that win will more than amortize those that lose, one of the things that I’ve been willing to do throughout my career is in the speculative part of my portfolio tolerate the concept of loss. If the potential for gain was substantial enough, from an arithmetic point of view, then the risk was justified, many of my competitors don’t have the psychological capability of taking loss. And they also don’t have the ability to invest in a region where all of the news that they see on the nightly news is horrific, not understanding the things change either for the better or for the worse. 

 

MAGGIE LAKE 

Why do you think you have that psychological tolerance?

RICK RULE  

I think a lot of it had to do with the fact that, as a speculator, I’ve experienced both risk and reward. I’ve had really numerous circumstances in my life, particularly around experiencing exploration success, but also investing in commodity classes that were simply too cheap. I’ve had numerous experiences of trades that went 10 to one or 20 For one,so my tolerance for risk has increased as a consequence of my experience of reward around allegedly risky transactions

 

MAGGIE LAKE 

“Speaking of risk, let’s get into your third trade, Paladin. So set the scene for us, what year was it, what’s going on in the markets at that time? 

RICK RULE  Setting was 1998. Basically all natural resources were in the toilet. The type of environment that a contrarian investor loves, there’s value all over the place. We’re looking at circumstances where the oil price is unsustainably low, which is to say that the oil stocks have to go up in price. And you can buy them with no competition. So I was perversely feeling extraordinarily bullish. And I was looking for smaller micro cap stocks that had no institutional appeal for commodities that were out of favor and for secondary or tertiary markets, which is to say, very small markets, where there was very little competition. I attended.

 

RICK RULE  A mining investment conference in Kalgoorlie, in Western Australia, in the middle of nowhere, but it’s a wonderful town to do that. There was at that point in time a gold mine in town, the super pit that produced a million ounces of gold a year in city limits. The business of the town was mining, mining, mining, mining and selling drinks to miners. And so I, I went to this mining conference and I was wandering around and I ran into a truly unique human being named John borsch off. And I had been interested for some time in uranium precisely because it was hated. But also because the arithmetic was so compelling. Despite the fact that nobody liked uranium. Remember, this is the aftermath of Chernobyl and Three Mile Island and Hiroshima and Nagasaki were still fresh in some people’s minds. And it wasn’t merely that uranium hadn’t performed since Three Mile Island, it is merely that the uranium investment thesis hadn’t worked for 20 years. That was bad enough people were bored by it. But people had a viscerally hostile reaction to Uranium when I would talk about uranium at an investment conference. It isn’t just that people would excuse themselves and go to the men’s room or the ladies room. In fact, afterwards, they come up to me and say that I was a despicable profiteer that I was speculating on Hiroshima, Nagasaki, Three Mile Island, all that kind of stuff. So I knew intrinsically that I was right. It isn’t merely that people were bored by it, people were hostile to it. At the same time, at that point in time, uranium made up 20% of the energy supply of the United States, which is to say that if we went off uranium, the lights would go out. And I knew that even the people who reacted hostility to the uranium thesis when they walked into a room and hit the switch, wanted the lights to go on. Now, at that point in time, the International Energy Agency suggested the incentive price for uranium, that is the total cost of producing a pound of uranium worldwide was $25 a pound.  I’m talking about everything now, exploration efforts. GNA, not just the mine costs. So the world is producing this stuff at 25 bucks a pound, and they’re selling it for eight, not a typo. Eight, the, the industry is losing 15 or $16 a pound 120 or 130 million times a year, getting rather boring. And so it was pretty clear to me that either the price of uranium went up, or the lights would go out around the world, which was more likely, it seemed to me that the price of uranium had to go up. So here I am in Australia, and I find a guy with a $1.5 million market cap that’s looking for uranium. We visited for a while this being Calgarly over beer. And I said how do you find uranium? He said I don’t have to. I was exploration manager for a big Western company. And when they laid me off, they gave me their worldwide database. So I don’t have to find uranium. All I have to do is stake stuff that the West Germans found with a billion dollar exploration effort from the 1970s. I said, Wait a minute, you don’t have to do GLG he says no no, no, in my files several 100 million pounds of uranium, all I have to do is go to the countries that have it. The government’s can’t sell it to anybody else. And so I make application and they give it to me, that seemed like a good price, you know, free. 

MAGGIE LAKE 

Sounds incredible. 

RICK RULE 

So I wrote a save the company check in Paladin at 10 cents a share, I believe with a 15 cent warrant if my memory serves me correctly, at a pre money valuation of 1,000,00 5 Australian with this wonderful database. And this human being that was so smart and so driven, I sort of knew he’d chew through concrete to get a win. And I was rewarded for my genius by seeing the stock go first from 10 cents to 12 cents, ironically, as a consequence, probably of my own reputation. But then from 12 cents to 11, 11 to 10, 10 to eight, eight to six, six to four, four to three. Suffice it to say, within a year of my investment, maybe a year and two or three months of my 10 cent investment the stock was at a penny. I was down 90%. When you’re down 90% Maggie, you don’t have a hold you have a buy or you have a sell. And I attempted to revisit my whole premise and I decided that I was while early, distressingly early. I was right. And the market was wrong. I didn’t unfortunately manage to buy any stock at a penny I was a little unnerved. But at a penny and a half, I was able to buy a fair bit of stock. That’s the bad part of the story. The good part of the story was beginning in 2000, but really gaining strength in 2001. We had an amazing bull market in uranium, my arithmetic was right, and the price of uranium went from $8 a pound to $145 a pound. The consequence of that is the basket of five small uranium stocks that I assembled in 2000. The only five junior mining companies in the world focused on uranium, the worst of the five went 22 to one. The best of the five was Paladin, which went from my price 10 cents to $10 in six years. Now, I would be lying Maggie if I said that I had all my 10 cents talk left at $10, that isn’t what happened. I started selling stock at sort of $2 plus and I I’m embarrassed to say that by $8 I was all gone but I’m not too embarrassed. The the idea that you had a 10 cent piece of paper, heaven forbid a 15 cent warrant in an $8 bid market. I have made other mistakes that are much more grievous. The lessons were this, the price of something that has to go up and can go up will go up, it might not go up in the right period of time. Price matters on the way in. Right now there’s uranium boomlet taking place. And companies that have now the attributes that Paladin had then have $400 million Australian market caps, rather than nine and a half dollar market caps, you will experience volatility, I’m used to 35 or 50% draw downs, I’m not used to 90% draw downs, I must say. But you have to reexamine your premise. If you’re right, and the price of a stock declines by 50%. It’s what you would call if you were shopping for physical goods, a sale and sales are good even when they involve financial assets. The other thing is when the reason to own a stock has come true. And you have experienced the increase in price that you had determined that you might experience. Understand that while, the narrative is true, it’s no longer cheap, and you have to sell. There were many, many, many people who bought the Paladin narrative after it went through seven or $8 held it up to 10 and experienced a round trip all the way back to 25 or 30 cents. Too many people have their sense of narrative validated by the price action, which is to say the price is something goes up 500%. And they are caused retro actively to understand why the price went up 500% They don’t understand that the increase in market capitalization has all ready discounted the value of the narrative. So just as one must be a contrarian on the buy side, one must be a contrarian on the sell side too if you confront victory, you have to accept it and turn it into cash.

 

MAGGIE LAKE  

Do you feel that that’s a lesson that needs to be heard right now, given the big increases we’ve seen in some equities in things like Bitcoin? We’ve seen big rallies in some metals that haven’t, you know, it seems like everyone’s chasing that rally and very, very reluctant to let go. 

 

RICK RULE  

If you understand the nature of your investment better than your competition does. Probably you will prevail. I’m not a Bitcoin investor, because I don’t understand the utility of Bitcoin, aside from the network, doesn’t mean it doesn’t have one. It just means that because I don’t understand it, I can’t invest in it. I’m concerned about the broad based securities markets. Because I’m, well, I’m not an economist, I’m concerned about an economy that hasn’t been allowed to have a recession for a very long time, I’m concerned about an economy that I believe is more driven by artificially low interest rates and liquidity than it is by increases in productivity. It doesn’t mean because I’m not an economist, that the party is going to come to an end. But I’m probably particularly concerned, because of artificially low interest rates, I don’t see the probability of interest rates going much lower, which is to say I don’t see the probability of the bond market going much higher, I don’t see the probability of the cost of capital for issuers declining as a consequence of lowered interest rates. And I don’t see dividend yields, generating higher capital values, because I don’t see them being attractive, more attractive relative to the positive products. So my sort of bias over time, is that valuations are probably overstated.

 

MAGGIE LAKE  

As you look back over your career. Is there some common thread that you think made you a good investor and a good trader?

 

RICK RULE  

Patience and discipline were certainly critical. Understanding the nature of my business, which is the need to be a contrarian. I think if you’re going to be a good technology investor, you better be an engineer. I mean, I don’t mean a degreed engineer, but you better understand technology as an example, rather merely than the technology narrative. I think in terms of my speculative success, the other thing is that I’ve been pretty good at identifying good people. And in market capitalizations, below a billion dollars. I think people probably more important than product when I look back Maggie, at the team of entrepreneurs that I backed in my 30s That is to say in my recovering years. If I had taken the 10 best people that I had met between age 30 and 40 and only back then didn’t invest with anybody else at all, I probably would have made twice as much money. And I probably would have worked half as hard. It’s arguable that I wouldn’t have had some of the amusing experiences that I’ve had. But I could have found other good experiences. So I would say that backing absolutely top quality people is important. You have in any field of human endeavor, people who are serially successful. I’m not sure why that is. I’m very familiar with parados law, the so called 80/20 rule. I don’t know why it is, but I know that it is. And to the extent that you find a serially successful human being, and you cling to that human being, like a rodeo rider clings to the bowl, you have a much better chance of being successful, rather than if you sort of flit from butcher to Baker to candlestick maker throughout capital markets.

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