The #1 Threat To Your Investment Strategy Is Not Being Able To See The Forest For The Trees...
“Before you proceed, step back and look at the big picture, lest you act rashly on raw impulse.”
~ Epictetus, Philosopher, 55-135 AD
My readers tell me I’m a straight shooter. They say I tell it like it is. And they like that because it helps them see the entire forest and not get seduced by the allure of any one tree.
So, since you’re on this page looking for answers, let me get straight to the point…
On this page I’m going to invite you to subscribe to my Tree Rings report. It’s only $97/mo.
As you’ll see, that’s a steal because…
Meaning, if you follow what we’re doing, we believe you are more likely to make better decisions with your money.
Think of it like this…
If all you ever did was avoid just one small mistake, one small move, one small error then the cost of the weekly is covered many times over.
Or if all you ever did was get in on one small trend, one new or overlooked opportunity, then that would also make the subscription worth far more than the cost.
And even if all it did was help you sleep a little better, watch the “news” a little less, and give you an overall sense of perspective, then it’d be worth whatever that’s worth—which is likely far more than money.
With that said, let me be very upfront about what this service is NOT.
In fact, subscribers tell me there’s nothing else like it.
Consider this recent message we received:
Kind words. And probably similar results to what you’re looking for.
Even so, and even though the annual subscription comes out to less than a short weekend getaway, you probably still have some questions.
So, on this page I’m going to answer 8 questions.
I’ve been told these are the 8 questions you, the reader, need answered in order to feel confident about subscribing today.
So let’s get to it, shall we?
Here’s the first question…
How Do I Know Tree Rings Can Help Me?
If you’re here on the internet reading this page right now, then chances are good that you’re looking to fill in some nagging holes or gaps in your investing strategy. Gaps that could have a direct impact on your investment accounts if not filled.
And that makes sense because even more than a decade later, the aftermath of the 2008 financial crisis, the current political climate, and the events of 2020 left us reeling for answers.
Once again smart investors realized they need to understand not just economics, but political economics, and worldwide societal issues too.
A failure to investigate any and all of these forces can lead to either significant actual loss or significant opportunity loss on major investments.
Now, let’s take a look back at three examples from previous issues of Tree Rings so you can get a better understanding of what we do and if it’s right for you…
Look Back #1
US Banking System in Trouble? Not so fast...
On Tuesday, September 17th 2019, two unusual and unexpected events took place in the US money markets. These events were:
TWO – the federal funds rate (the official interest rate) rose to 2.30% in response to the dramatic move in the repo rate which was 5 basis points above the target band of 2% to 2.25% set by the Federal Open Market Committee (FOMC).
This was the largest intraday move in the history of the repo market and the 10% rate reached was the highest rate recorded in decades.
So as you can imagine, it produced quite a bit of noise in the markets. And no doubt the financial newsletter companies were adding to the noise by firing up their doom and gloom pitches.
Just how significant was this event?
Zero Hedge calculated that, since 2006, the average difference between the GC repo rate and the federal funds rate was 0.25%, whereas on 17 September 2019 the differential reached was 7.7%.
As one colleague wrote:
“This differential represents at least 40 standard deviations from the average which is an extremely unlikely, if not an impossible, event occurring according to a statistically normal bell-curve distribution.”
Again, lots of stats and charts and, of course, commentary.
Aka., noise. Noise and commentary like this:
“…the mainstream media, with their strong links to the world of banking and large investment funds, have remained silent about the fact that once again, the public authorities are forced to come to the rescue of big banks…”
But was the problem really the US Banking system or was something else going on?
That’s the signal we were listening for as we wrote the September 20, 2019 issue.
We opened the report that week with “One of the most important macro quotes of 2019”:
Despite the noise and panic around the US Banking System, we went on to explain why we did NOT think this was primarily a US Banking System problem.
We are finding that many traders and people deep in the weeds on the plumbing are focused on merely the mechanical aspects of the new large repo program the Fed launched this week. However, we believe they are missing the forest for the trees.
Bank of America’s Mark Cabana is one of the world’s foremost experts on the US monetary plumbing and he has it exactly right – if US deficits are the core reason that repo rates are spiking (because US deficits are crowding out the US banking system), then when the Fed launches a large repo program to get the repo rate back “under control” (i.e. low enough to not blow up the system), then what the Fed is effectively doing is financing the US government through the banking system.
As such, we agree with those saying spiking repo rates are not a sign of trouble in the US banking system – that is 100% correct. Spiking repo rates are a sign the US fiscal problem is getting acute, and since the Fed will ultimately be forced to add ever-growing amounts of liquidity to address this (at least until the USD falls enough to attract a bigger foreign private sector bid for USTs), our view on spiking repo is not “Run away from gold & risk assets” as it was in past crises, but rather “Run INTO gold & risk assets.”
There’s plenty to unpack in that one “tree ring” but we didn’t stop there. We researched, put on our thinking caps, considered history, politics, fear, and more over the next 13 pages of that issue.
For instance, as a subscriber you would’ve read:
At this point you are either asking,
“So what? How does this help me make or protect money?”
“This is exactly the kind of macro analysis I’ve been looking for–please, tell me more.”
Either way you’re already seeing how a subscription to the Tree Rings Report is not about one move, one piece of data, one great trade, one must buy stock story, or one in or out trigger.
As a Tree Rings subscriber, you increasingly value the big picture. Week by week you learn to understand that understanding matters. You start playing the long game because, in reality, it’s all the long game.
Now, let’s fast forward 6 months from that crazy week in 2019 to March 2020…
Look Back #2
The Month The World Stood Still
March 20, 2020 Issue – You want to know what is happening BEFORE everyone else figures it out. BEFORE everyone else starts piling in. Or BEFORE everyone else starts getting out.
And while no one knew how long the pandemic would last, we were watching to see how a sudden halt in much of the world’s economy might affect the ongoing saga known as the Fed’s balance sheet.
On page two of that issue we shared this chart:
We noted: In the last week alone, the Fed’s balance sheet grew at a $17.5T annual rate (80% of US GDP annual rate) source: Federal Reserve, via Lyn Alden
Here’s what we wrote in response:
The Fed’s balance sheet has begun hyperinflating (dare we say), rising at a $17.5 trillion annual rate in the last week, and a $7.4T annual rate the past 3 weeks. What is incredible is that it isn’t enough, as risk assets have fallen sharply on the week and spreads in the “deepest, most liquid market in the world” (the UST market) are still reportedly quite wide…and this balance sheet growth is without the US fiscal spending stimulus that hasn’t even really started yet.
We have long been saying that in the next downturn, the Fed could easily have to do $250-350B per month in QE; we thought we were being aggressive. Last summer, we began realizing the Fed was likely going to have to effectively bail out the Eurodollar system. In plain English, we said in an interview earlier this year on The Investors’ Podcast that we thought the Fed’s balance sheet could easily be $10T by mid-late 2023.
The Fed’s balance sheet could now very well be at $10-12T by year end, and $20T or more by year-end 2021 is not inconceivable. As a result of the COVID crisis, things are moving far faster than we could have ever imagined, and many market participants looked on our prior views with a high degree of skepticism or outright ridicule, which means they are wildly offsides and are now going to have to scramble to get on-sides.
Were we right? Take a look at this chart:
Since the March 20th issue, we’ve seen the Fed balance sheet explode higher and then continue climbing in stair-step fashion towards that $10T mark. And as of this writing, it was just the halfway point of 2021.
However, knowing WHAT is happening is not as useful as it could be unless one also knows WHY.
Elsewhere in that issue, I also gave readers a big picture view of WHY this might be happening… why it might continue… and why that might mean the price of other assets could continue to rise.
This is what we mean when we say connecting the dots. Looking at the big picture stuff… including past, present, and future long term political and global economic plans.
So what happened since?
We believe it’s becoming increasingly obvious, based on moves of the current administration, that:
“we want to own assets that benefit from what seems likely to be accelerating global currency debasement (gold, silver, BTC, equities, esp. industrial and tech equities).”
Our readers are loving being in the know too…
Speaking of gold, let’s look at one more example of the type of research and analysis you’ll be getting each week as a subscriber…
Look Back #3
Will History Repeat, or “Just” Rhyme?
March 27, 2020 Issue – we alerted readers to an unusual signal. A signal we hadn’t seen in half a decade. We wrote:
1st month to 2nd month gold futures contract backwardation is occurring for 1st time since Dec-2015 — source: Bloomberg, via DC
The last time this happened was in late 2015, when gold was ~$1,050 per ounce and proceeded to rise ~30% in the next 6 months.
As one technician pointed out to us, a 30% rise from current levels would put gold prices comfortably into all-time highs against the USD, at which point the price of gold would be “free to run” in their words…especially if UST rates continue to move into negative territory further out the curve:
Since then, gold prices trended higher overall holding onto a 16% gain in USD as seen here:
What did we see back in March of 2020 while the world was caught up in early days of the shut-down?
One cannot have the world’s primary reserve asset be nominally-negative yielding; an estimated $7T in USTs currently sitting in global FX reserves would likely begin bidding for gold, of which only ~$120B is mined annually and only $7T exists in the world (at current prices). Let’s watch.
I could go on with more examples but I hope you can see by these three look backs into past issues demonstrate the type of work we do and why our readers find it so valuable…
Let’s take a look at another question investors ask me… and one I had to ask myself in 2008...
What's Holding Me Back?
In a word, information. As an investor, information can be both your most loyal Ally, and your most cunning enemy. The challenge, of course, is being able to tell the two apart.
Living and working on Wall Street through the financial crisis of 2008 made me realize many things I thought I knew were, well, wrong.
This realization sent me off on a journey of new learning. I knew that I needed multi-dimensional thinking. To have more than one lens to look through.
And I thought if I needed this, my clients might benefit from it as well.
So I read – a lot. And I began understanding that there was more to see, if you had the eyes to see it, and more to hear – if you had the ears to hear it.
That’s why every week I comb through hundreds of pages, some of it well-known, some of it obscure.
But here’s the thing…
Even if you did know about all these sources, you would have to spend over $2,500 per year just to access some of these sources. Sources like…
Wall Street Journal
Buerau of Labor Statistics
And these are just the starting sources.
Because when a story or stat catches my attention and requires a deep dive, then there’s no telling where I might end up.
Now let’s assume you knew about all these sources. And let’s say you spent the money to subscribe to all of these sources (and others).
You’d STILL need to spend HOURS pouring through hundreds… even thousands… of pages per week.
Week in. Week out. Month after month. Year after year.
For me that looks like locking myself in my office from Tuesday through Thursday every week. No interruptions. My wife calls it “going into my cave”.
I scour my sources. I turn over rocks. Often, I have no idea what I’m looking for until I see it. And that’s on purpose. I’m not trying to validate my beliefs about what I think is going to happen.
Instead, I’m open to letting the information tell me where things are headed.
Then on Friday, I deliver it all to you in one easy to read report. More on that in a minute.
Now, my guess is even if you enjoy investing and keeping up on the markets and politics, you probably don’t have 60+ hours per week to dedicate to this stuff.
And that’s a problem.
Because that’s exactly what’s required if you want to stay ahead of the trends and not get blind-sided by something you could’ve seen coming had you been able to connect the dots.
Who or What is to Blame?
I’m not really into blaming others. Not because there’s no one to blame but because blaming doesn’t help you become a better investor. Blaming doesn’t put money in your account.
With that said, it is critical you realize there are forces, internal and external, that can deceive, derail, and destroy even the best investment strategies.
However, simply being aware of these forces makes you a far better investor. An investor able to see the entire forest beyond the trees immediately in front of you.
What kind of forces?
That’s a good question. There are literally dozens of forces working against you as you try to grow your portfolio and make smart investment decisions.
For now, let’s just take a look at two examples that come to mind. One example is an internal force and the other example is an external force…
188 Ways To Make The Wrong Decision
Did you know our brains have 188 cognitive biases?
These biases cause us to…
… gather information from the wrong, or limited, sources,
… seek out information to confirm existing beliefs.
… and fail to remember events the way they actually happened.
You’ve likely heard of these biases. They include:
- The Bandwagon effect
- The Blind Spot bias
- Confirmation bias ㅤ
- The Ostrich effect ㅤ
- And about 184 others…
As you can see in the graphic, there are 4 types of problems that trigger these biases. Problems our brains are constantly trying to solve….
- Trigger One – problems involving information overload;
- Trigger Two – lack of meaning;
- Trigger Three – the need to act fast; and
- Trigger Four – how to know what needs to be remembered for later.
Quite often these biases are like dominoes.
For example, information overload can lead you to FEEL like you need to act fast.
Or, a lack of meaning might have you disregard a critical piece of information that should have been saved for later.
The bottom line is your brain, your emotions, and even marketers, are triggering these biases all the time.
These biases are real. And they are always being triggered.
Fortunately, all is not lost.
In just a minute, I’ll show you how you can slow down or eliminate these triggers from being pulled when making investment decisions.
But first, let’s look at one example of an external force at play in your investment strategy…
Why History Books Might Be The Most Undervalued Assets on Wall Street...
For better or worse, these young men and women have influence over the markets.
Now, here’s the concern as quantified by Bloomberg.com:
- 30% of traders are so young they’ve NEVER experienced anything other than zero interest rates.
- 66% of traders have no adult memories of the dot-com crash of 2000.
- Only 43% of traders are old enough to remember the 2000 dot-com crash and the 2007 credit crisis–the two most significant economic cycles of the last 20 years.
And by the way, those stats are from 2015. The average Wall Street trader today would be a half-decade further removed from those events.
The problem is these young traders and market makers have very little historical context for what appears to occur in markets and in Geopolitics.
Relatively few of them have even read about it in textbooks.
In short, they (and those who are unknowingly following their analysis) have no perspective on what could be coming next…
Why Subscribe Now?
Listen, if you follow me on Twitter or listen to my podcast then you know there are lots of reasons to stay ahead of the news right now. Lots of reasons to take a step back and get a clear view of the big picture… to connect the dots.
For instance, I could talk about societal and generational shifts that are happening like those unfolding as (eerily) predicted in the book The Fourth Turning back in 1997. Shifts that typically create chaos and crisis like the 2008 crisis. According to the authors, there’s one more crisis coming.
When? Most likely within 24 months.
I could also talk about how we are no longer enjoying the longest economic expansion in history. The previous longest expansion was 120 months from March 1991 to March 2001.
This recent expansion lasted 128 months (10 ½ years) and ended with the sudden onset of the Pandemic.
But let’s be honest, if you weren’t in the service industry, this halt in the economy probably didn’t affect you all that much.
Of course, that brings up all kinds of questions.
- Would the expansion have continued?
- Was it a “real” recession?
- How long will it be before we see a recovery?
- Is Gov’t spending helping or just digging a deeper hole that must be accounted for?
- How quickly, or ugly, will the current situation end?
- And how will all this uncertainty affect your investments this time?
- Was that the real adjustment or a false flag?
- Does Mr. Market even need a “real” adjustment?
- And if so, how bad could that be? 2008? Worse?
- Or maybe things are just “different” this time?
ㅤAnd then there’s…
- the student loan crisis
- the soaring US debt problem
- the political unrest–domestic and global
- the social unrest–domestic and global
- the ever increasing speed of technology that is changing how we do business and who we do business with
- and soooo much more
Any one of these things could cause the next shoe to drop.
The thing is, even if we knew the timing of the next shoe dropping, there’s also the matter of analyzing what the “next shoe dropping” might look like, which is not as straightforward as many think.
It’s a nasty cocktail of stress, anxiety, and uncertainty for many investors.
But here’s the thing…
Tree Rings offers a lens you can look through to see what may be developing out there. You simply need to know where to find the information and how to piece it together, how to connect the dots.
Well, actually, you don’t need to know HOW to do it because that’s exactly what I do every week for my Tree Rings subscribers.
In fact, here’s a great image one of my readers found on Twitter. They said it reminded them of what we do for our readers:
Even so, you might still be thinking…
Why Should I Trust You?
By the way, my name is Luke Gromen. You may know me from Twitter or other social media channels. Maybe you’ve seen my Videos.
Then again, you may not know me at all and just stumbled onto this page or saw an ad and landed here.
Either way is ok. And either way, I’m glad you’re here.
Now, since you’re still reading (or at least skimming) this page, you probably would like to know who you’ll be hearing from each week if you decide to go ahead and subscribe today.
So without getting too boring, here’s the short version of my story and why I believe I can help you…
Prior to starting Forest for the Trees (FFTT, LLC) in 2014, I worked on Wall Street as an analyst and salesperson. To date, I’ve got more than 20 years worth of experience in investment research under my belt.
It was while I was on Wall Street that I began to see a huge chasm between how information was being received and compiled to how it was then being interpreted and delivered.
It was causing a silo effect – information being hoarded rather than shared openly between interested parties.
Data was sold on the market, much like gold and platinum, but we were missing the bigger picture. There were few who bothered connecting the dots or explaining what this information actually meant.
Basically, investors, analysts, and salespeople found they were often “missing the forest for the trees,” so to speak.
And that is exactly why my company FFTT, LLC and the newsletter you’re reading about, Tree Rings, exists…
My journey has helped create a new perspective through which I view the world and which, as mentioned in the “look back” examples above, has demonstrated to have predictive value in the past decade.
If that doesn’t answer the question “Why should I trust you?”, maybe this will…
I believe so strongly in the type of research I now provide through FFTT and Tree Rings that I resigned my partnership position with a sizable regional brokerage firm so that I could provide 100% independent research for my clients.
I needed to be able to speak freely… to be allowed to be wrong when new information presented itself… to look back and use history as a tool to balance technical or fundamental thinking.
I simply couldn’t do that in my existing seat, I felt I had to create and launch my own firm to be able to call things as I saw them.
And now, subscribers are responding with appreciation…
So, I put everything on the line because I believe so strongly in this research.
ㅤIf you’re still reading your next question might be…
How Does A Tree Rings Subscription Work?
“We learn most readily, most naturally, most effectively, when we start with the big picture…”
~ Alfie Kohn, Author
Since 1995, I’ve helped my clients understand their investment process by creating a weekly report highlighting 10 vital pieces of information.
I called it, “The 10 Most Interesting Things I’ve Seen This Week.”
Not the most evocative title, I know, but my clients loved it.
Over the years, my report has been modified, renamed, polished, and imbued so you’re getting only the most important stories, coupled with my insights, that truly benefit you.
It is that framework that we use and try to share in every issue of Tree Rings.
No hype. No stories. No pitching. No BS. No fluff.
Tree Rings focuses on helping you look through a multi-dimensional lens in order to make better investment decisions.
The weekly insights inside each issue are like the lines that connect the dots that make your investing picture clear.
For just $97/mo, you’ll get a weekly issue of Tree Rings delivered straight to your inbox every Friday afternoon. In each weekly issue you’ll get:
In short, it’s everything you need and nothing you don’t.
With each issue you’ll see more clearly and understand more deeply how to “connect the dots.”
You’ll feel more confident as you read each issue and you begin to realize you finally have the kind of unbiased information you’ve been looking for… information that allows you to take action based on your unique investment strategies.
And because we want you to hit the ground running, we’re also giving you…
Once you subscribe you’ll receive an email to set your password and log into our private, subscriber’s only portal.
Here’s some of what you’ll find inside:
None of these should be the reason you subscribe. They are simply additional resources our subscriber’s enjoy.
Ok, if I’ve done my job so far then you next question should be:
How Do I Get My First Issue?
First, despite everything mentioned up to this point, I should be clear that a subscription to Tree Rings isn’t for everyone.
It’s not a pick of the day kind of newsletter. It’s not going to get you all excited about “The Next Microsoft of China” or some mysterious sounding “Little-Known Market Glitch That Turns Value Investors Into Millionaires in 3 Clicks”.
In fact, it may even scare you a bit at first. But the longer you’re a reader, the more you’ll see how everything fits together.
That’s because Tree Rings gets in the trenches… behind the scenes… ahead of the mainstream news.
It’s not about hype or promises.
Instead, it’s about looking at the big picture.
It’s about seeing the entire forest and not getting seduced by one cool looking tree.
So if you like what you’ve read on this page, then you’ll probably like having a subscription to Tree Rings too. I like the way this subscriber said it when I asked him:
“What value does subscribing to Tree Rings give you?”
Or this answer to the same question:
To get started cutting through the noise, simply click the button below:
You’ll get a confirmation within the hour and login access to our platform where you can find all of the past Tree Rings reports – the current report will be added each Friday by 4pm Eastern.
Then, each Friday by 4pm Eastern, you will get a new issue.
Read through it.
Track the stories.
Put it to the test…
… maybe even with a cup of coffee like this subscriber:
If within 30 days you do not see the value, let us know and we’ll give you a full refund.
Truth is, you’ll probably know within 3 days of getting your first issue if this research is for you or not. And if it’s not, that’s ok. Just let us know and we’ll happily refund every penny.
But my guess is, you’ll soon value your subscription as much as these subscribers do…
All I Need To Do Is Wait For The Next Tree Rings
I Learn Something New Every Week
Like a LightHouse Beacon Cutting Through the Fog
Even so, you won’t know if Tree Rings is right for you until you give it a try. So give it a try for 30 days. If you don’t like it, let us know and we’ll give you a full refund.
Ok, last question that might be on your mind…
What If I Don't Subscribe?
If you do not subscribe, that is okay.
Like I said above, Tree Rings is not for everyone. I’ll keep reading and researching all my sources. I’ll keep putting the best, most important findings into each issue of Tree Rings. And I’ll keep sending it out to the people who are subscribed.
So that’s me, but what about you? The way I see it, there are three ways you can go from here…
Do absolutely nothing...
If you already have everything you want then you don’t need the information inside Tree Rings.
However, if you would like to be one of the investors who will often be out ahead of the news that leaves you with two other options…
Do it yourself
You absolutely can spend the time, money and energy required to do what I do each week in Tree Rings.
For me, that required…
- spending nearly 25 years in investment research, ㅤ
- developing a methodology that eliminated the noise and allowed me to focus on the clearest, most valuable signals
- a robust and “Rolodex” of contacts and sources
- and 60+ hours per week doing research.
Now, maybe that sounds like fun to you. Maybe you’ve got some of those pieces and you want to figure out the rest. That’s cool. I get it! I love this stuff too.
But all of this in hopes that you’ll be able to piece together the information you find, without getting overwhelmed, in a way that allows you to protect what you’ve got and/or profit from what’s next?
If you’re willing to work hard and not afraid to spend the time, money, and discipline required to “lock yourself in your cave each week” then you might be able to pull it off.
Let me do the heavy lifting for you.
I’ll put my resources and experience to work for you.
I’ll dig deep, scour hundreds of pages online, read thoughts from the greatest financial minds of all time, chase obscure data, and whatever else is required.
Then, I’ll package up the most important points each week and deliver it to your inbox.
All you need to do is log in, maybe grab the drink of your choice, and read through the pages of that week’s Tree Rings report.
Then, make any adjustments, or none at all, to your investment strategy.
So ask yourself…
Of these three options, what’s going to be easier for you? Which is going to give you the consistent insights you need over time?
You see, there are really only two types of people in this world…
Those who talk about achieving their goals without ever taking any action to make it happen…
And those who are ready to take action when the opportunity presents itself.
Most people will tell you they want to be happier, less stressed, more informed, not swayed by the news, etc…
But we both know very few actually create an environment to make it happen.
Even so, here’s what I know…
Only you can decide. I can’t reach through the screen and make you do anything. Nor would I want to.
So, if you choose to subscribe, I look forward to seeing your name added to our list of readers and to helping you “connect the dots.”
If not, that’s ok too.
Either way, I hope you find what you’re looking for.