DC: You look for companies that are exploring for it. One of the important things that makes me very bullish on oil is that most of the oil in the world today—something like 80%—is not owned and produced by BP Plc (BP:NYSE; BP:LSE), Exxon Mobil Corp. (XOM:NYSE), Royal Dutch Shell Plc (RDS.A:NYSE; RDS.B:NYSE) and companies like that. It’s mostly owned and produced by national oil companies such as those in Mexico, Iran, Saudi Arabia and Venezuela. These state oil companies are universally corrupt and inefficient. The profits from the oil are generally used as piggybanks by those governments, not to build capital and find more oil. Furthermore, where governments allow private exploration, such as Iraq, they take about 80–90% of the potential profits from oil, which of course discourages exploration and exploitation of the resource. The problems are almost entirely political, but they’re big problems.
TGR: Speaking of the politics of energy, are you still bullish on uranium in light of the politics of what’s gone on since the Fukushima meltdown?
DC: Yes. I’ve said it before and continue to say it. There’s no question that nuclear power is by far the safest, cleanest and cheapest type of mass power generation available. Fukushima survived one of the most severe earthquakes in recorded history with no problem; it’s just a pity they didn’t adequately plan for a 45-foot tidal wave on top of it. In addition, those plants basically were 50-year-old technology. If it weren’t for political obstructions, we’d be using vastly improved technology. But it’s not just uranium. Thorium is actually a much better fuel from many points of view and probably would have been used as a fuel instead of uranium except that the governments of the world found uranium useful for nuclear weapons as well as nuclear power.
Nuclear power is definitely the answer, but as you point out, it’s a question of political problems. Across the resource industry, in fact, it’s all politics. When you find a gigantic resource of some type, you can count on lawsuits, not-in-my-backyard opposition and political theft. Those are among the reasons that I don’t see the resource industry as a place to make investments. It’s only a place where you can speculate.
TGR: So what should long-term investors do to protect themselves?
DC: Because the big problems in the world today all are political, the critical thing is to diversify politically and internationally. You can’t have all your assets under the control of one government or in one country. Then, of course, you have to find the right place to put the money within that framework.
TGR: How do you do that?
DC: I can write a book on that.
TGR: Or stage a summit? You have quite a faculty lined up.
DC: It is an impressive group. Actually, this summit has dual overarching purposes. As we’ve discussed, the massive amounts of money the world’s governments have unleashed in their economies have lit a small fire of recovery. We’re going to talk a lot about whether the world is truly on a path to recovery or whether investors wouldn’t be wise to develop and implement Plan B now, given that the extreme levels of debt that were such a major factor in creating the current crisis have not been reduced. To me, that strongly suggests that this so-called recovery is unsustainable and calls for moving into Plan B. Part of Plan B involves identifying optimal investment strategies for the markets ahead.
TGR: What sorts of takeaways are in store for people who attend?
DC: Let’s have David Galland, who’s been instrumental in preparing for this summit, respond to that. (A senior market strategist, Galland is managing director of Casey Research LLC, managing editor of The Casey Report, International Speculator, Casey Investment Alert author of Casey’s Daily Dispatch.)
David Galland: We expect the takeaways will be good answers to many burning questions. As Doug has suggested, the government says the recovery is real and your broker will tell you it is, yet the underlying data suggests that it may be a paper tiger. So, what’s the hard truth? Should you be moving aggressively into rebounding equities? Or is the recovery a mirage that will dissipate in a second crushing leg down for the economy and traditional investment markets? What are the road signs you need to pay close attention to? How can you position your portfolio to do well in either scenario and, most importantly, to hedge against the worst case? Should you worry about inflation or deflation? Neither? Or both? Will the gold and silver you’ve been holding turn to lead and pull your portfolio down? Or is loading up on corrections still the right thing to do?
TGR: These summits are always sold-out affairs. Is this one full already?
DG: Just a few spots remain as we speak.
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