Today's Puzzle, Corporate Raiders, Gordon Gecko, Goldenballs, Ouroboros, Where All This Ends

Are you in the mood for puzzling out riddles and mystery? I hope so. I'm not planning to give all the answers to what comes below!

Here is a fun and quick puzzle to set the mood and get started:

Can You Pass Our Latest Gold Quiz? - U.S. Global Investors

How did you do? I got a 13, which surprised me. To tell the truth between you and me, I had a couple of lucky guesses in the double score section that brought me up a bit over what I seemed to be cruising towards!

I seem to have been awarded 5 gram gold ingot status! Yaay!


Right then, below I give you a longer puzzle, but it reads like a story made up of a couple of disjointed chapters from mythology, alchemy and modern history, and I hope it's interesting whichever way reader choose to take it. To tell the truth about this one: nobody really has all the answers.

So I open with a description of Slash and Burn agriculture as practised by rainforest tribes in various parts of the world.

Quote: ....  the consequences of slash-and-burn techniques for ecosystems are almost always destructive. This happens particularly as population densities increase, and as a result farming becomes more intensively practiced.  .....  If adjacent plots are treated in a similar fashion, large-scale erosion will usually ensue, since there are no roots or temporary water storage in nearby canopies to arrest the surface runoff. Thus, any small remaining amounts of nutrients are washed away. The area is an example of desertification, and no further growth of any type may arise for generations.

The ecological ramifications of the above scenario are further magnified, because tropical forests are habitats for extremely biologically diverse ecosystems, typically containing large numbers of endemic and endangered species. Therefore, the role of slash-and-burn is significant in the current Holocene extinction.

Slash-and-burn could be distinctly defined as the large-scale deforestation of acres of forests for agricultural usage. The ashes that come from the trees would also help farmers, for it provides nutrients for farming.

In regions which industrialized, including Europe and North America, the practice was abandoned over the past few centuries as market agriculture was introduced, and land came to be owned. For example, slash-and-burn agriculture was initially practiced by European pioneers in North America like Daniel Boone and his family who cleared land in the Appalachian Mountains in the late 18th and early 19th Centuries. However, the land of such slash-and-burn farmers was eventually taken over by modern systems of land tenure which focus on the long-term improvement of farmland, and discourage the older subsistence practices associated with slash-and-burn agriculture.    :Unquote  (source)

So I think we could say that slash and burn works until too many people try it in a limited area. (Like a bull market is great until everyone is already onboard, in a way I suppose.) But unfortunately the numbers increase and then bad things happen. To take the rainforest case: quote:  forests like this have extraordinary biodiversity. Biologists say over half of all plant and animal species live in the rainforest. Also more than 1/4 of all medicines come from here. Covering only 6% of the Earth's land area they are still an important source of oxygen. :unquote (source)

I personally think of slash and burn in terms of somebody trashing other people's stuff to get something for themselves - like a thief smashing a 5000 dollar window to snatch an object worth 20 bucks and run off with it.

I have made reference to asset stripping in previous articles like this one,  in which I compared the Roman Empire's business model of militarily conquering whole countries, and then asset stripping them sending gold and silver back to Rome, enslaving their populations either a directly as slaves, or indirectly as working under an onerous taxation system, whereby taxes flowed back to pay Rome for administration and military costs, plus a little percentage on the side for those at the top. That could never happen today, not even for oil or gold, eh!

There is a very interesting paper about asset stripping of privatized businesses, which could describe the career path of many of the present oligarch hierarchy: Asset Stripping, Rule of Law and Firm Survival: The Hoff-Stiglitz Model and Mass Privatization in Montenegro. (Edit: link now fixed) It's worth a look, even just to read the summary.

Moving onHERE is a short little article about Private Equity firms, and highlighting their excessive (to the author) management fee structure. It opens with that beautiful reference to the movie "Wall Street" quote: "I am not a destroyer of companies. I am a liberator of them," declared Gordon Gekko in the film Wall Street 20 years ago. The same response to the charge of asset-stripping can be heard today from private equity firms, and it is only convincing in part.  :unquote You know what? I can just imagine Julius Caesar saying something similar two thousand years before!

I read this article from several years ago in New York Times which discussed what the corporate raiders did after their heyday. It's interesting:

Where, Oh Where, Have All the Corporate Raiders Gone?

But with the benefit of several years of hindsight which Margaret Isa at NYT did not have at the time of writing, it appears to me that the corporate raiders of the 70s and 80s have morphed into the private equity and wealth funds of today. Or to put it another way, slash & Burn, aka The Roman Empire, aka Genghis Khan's conquer and tax/be slaughtered, aka the corporate raiders, aka Private Wealth, aka the wealth funds of today - business has not changed all that much!

In this regard Jimmy Goldsmith's life makes for absolutely fascinating reading, because "Goldenballs" (as Private Eye dubbed him) brings together a very great number of the strands which somehow end up being discussed by those who study the price of gold, and it's flow from place to place down the ages, or even just with regard to making decisions about investing in gold in the present day.

This is a biographical account of his lawsuit against the satirical magazine "Private Eye":

A more recent biography would have more, and I suggest reading more than one!

A little teaser to whet the readers' appetite:

Quote:  Sir James Michael "Jimmy" Goldsmith (26 February 1933 – 18 July 1997) was an Anglo-French billionaire financier and tycoon.[1] Towards the end of his life, he became a magazine publisher and a politician. In 1994, he was elected to represent France as a Member of the European Parliament and he subsequently founded the short-lived eurosceptic Referendum Party in the United Kingdom.

..... Goldsmith was the inspiration for the character of the corporate raider Sir Larry Wildman in Oliver Stone's Wall Street.

..... Goldsmith's father Frank changed the family name from the German Goldschmidt to the English Goldsmith. The Goldschmidts, neighbors and rivals to the Rothschild family, were a wealthy, Frankfurt-based, Jewish family, who had been influential figures in international merchant banking since the 16th century.

.... He was a greenmail corporate raider and asset stripper. With the financial backing of Sir Isaac Wolfson,[8] he acquired diverse food companies quoted on the London Stock Exchange as Cavenham Foods. This included Bovril – the acquisition of which he financed by selling its assets in South America and elsewhere

... Goldsmith retired to Mexico in 1987, having anticipated the market crash that year and liquidated his assets. However he continued corporate raiding, including an attempt on British-American Tobacco in 1989 (for which he joined Kerry Packer and Jacob Rothschild). He also swapped his American timber assets for a 49.9 percent stake in Newmont Mining and remained on the board of Newmont until he liquidated his stake through open-market trades in 1993. He was precluded by the original purchase of Newmont from trying to take over the company. In 1990, Goldsmith also began a lower-profile, but also profitable, global "private equity style" investment operation. :unquote

I would add that one of his sons, Ben, married Kate Rothschild, for those who are interested in that family's history.

So that was Sir James Goldsmith, corporate raider, professional gambler, many wives and families, and he owned several media outlets, magazines as well as taking on others through the courts. He was years ahead of the UKIP Party, with his UK Referendum Party. UKIP is now becoming so popular that Mr Cameron the Conservative (is that a Happy Family card game name?) is pretending to stand up to the EU from time to time.  I understand that when he was on his deathbed with hours remaining to live in Paris, he got himself put onto an airplane and flown out of France into Spain where he died. The French government lost out on their "take", millions in death and estate taxes, and were incandescent!

Jimmy was quite a character, an amazing man, and I wholeheartedly recommend to readers the benefits of a thorough study of interviews and biographical material about his larger than life story. His book about the proposed Euro currency called something akin to The Trap (not precisely remembering, either that or similar) would make an interesting comparison with subsequent events for EU peripheral countries.

I would like to mention an article called "Civilization consumes itself out of resentment". This anarchic article opens thus ...  quote: "Day after day, we see our elected leaders making stupid and terrible decisions — with the consent and often encouragement of the populace. Most seem to at best treat it as an amusing sideshow, and at worst, attempt to sabotage it by choosing nonsense answers and ideology. ..." :unquote and the author talks about the rise and fall of empire, cognitive dissonance, and I suppose the decay of overall social values and the result of that. He ends in a depressing tone with :

quote: It’s amazing how the truth is staring us in the face. Why do people sabotage and rage at others? Shame. Shame for being caught in this mess, for not having a way out, and for having their lives’ future course determined by it.

These people are better than the usual person, who compensates for a failing society by being as absolutely selfish as possible. Those are the true Nietzsche-described “last men.” They have traded their souls for trivial pleasures, like being the 400,000th person to climb Everest.

All of the suit and tie guy, grey world of city misery, ugly buildings and ugly jobs, boring meetings and dishonest people, interpersonal drama, passive aggression, etc. has a huge penalty. It’s the death of a thousand cuts. No act by itself is big, but together, they make civilization a hateful place.

And thus the last people who have the brains to notice this are conspiring day-by-day to destroy it. :unquote

Quite depressing indeed! But his sentiments fit in well with a line of thought I want to get across today at this stage of my little chat.

I need to go back in time for my next source of original ideas. Back to the year 1617. That was when Michael Maier (1568-1622) wrote his emblematic (illustrated) work "Atalanta Fugiens" - which he published a year later. This is a most interesting book about the middle ages. It shows many of the alchemical emblems. Emblems are illustrations or ideograms, like an illuminated stained glass church window, they tell a story, or convey a message and if the looker is illiterate they still accomplish communication of the message. The text of Atalanta Fugiens is here in English translation. Unfortunately the illustrations do not seem to show up from that webpage, so you can go here to see them, as without them the translation is pretty meaningless. There is much there for the reader who has time on their hands and is willing to look carefully, but for today I focus upon Emblem # 14.

That particular emblem turns up many different times and places through history. It is on family crests, in Masonic Degree rituals, and was used in Egyptian texts. In most sources this is called an Ouroboros. Try that link to Wikipedia and see for yourself some of the many interesting places this emblem may be seen, as well as the meanings ascribed to it. It's another good starting place.

I'll stick with one interpretation of the Ouroboros in particular for today, and that is "ending as beginning" but do look into the other roots of this circular diagram if you can.

The particular root meaning I'm using today refers to a cyclical renewal from the old, what was before ends and renews afresh. Phoenix from the ashes kind of stuff... It's overdue, but I believe will only come at the right time. Waiting sucks!

And all of this is not in the slightest bit depressing as that author wrote. I find it quite uplifting actually!

So there you are.

Best regards

Argentus Maximus

The author posts daily commentary on the gold and silver markets in the TFMR forum: The Setup For The Big Trade. More information about the author & his work can be found here: RhythmNPrice.


metalsbyamile's picture

What a tangled web we weave

when at first we practice to deceive. Onward to read the balance.

Test score 12. The bonus round had my score lowered from the whole.

proformatrillionaire's picture


Listening to the new jackass posted on the last thread. Reading this one now.

Test score = 11

legerde's picture

My score...

13.  Not just saying that.  But the bonus round was huge for me.  No google involved either.

KC's picture

Interesting Times

10.  As painful as it is to watch the slow motion collapse of our economic system, at least we can say that we live in interesting times.  Yes, ending as beginning is rather uplifting.  AM, thanks for your contribution.  I love to read your stuff.


pontiac's picture

nice quick quiz

I scored a 14... a gold ingot

metalsbyamile's picture

Who ever is hat tipping

Consider the author of this great piece and the work under taken for our perusal.

MiningJunkie's picture

Turd: You are showing


You are showing distinct symptoms of wealth depletion - self-doubt, apprehension, Double-Thinking, and anchoring - and that's not a jab. What it IS is what happens when you get blown out believing in silver market "fundamentals" (as I did in 2011). My current view is that the Bad Guys are setting us up with the COT report  just like they did in 2011 with Comex Inventory numbers. I have had no fewer than twenty emails about the COT this weekend so just like Summer Seasonality After June Weakness was "too pat", this "double-fade" on July seasonality for silver is  joke. Silver will scream in July but what is the entry point? Was it in late May? Or will they give the boys an entry post in July? 

Dagney Taggart's picture


And I don't even like gold.

PS. @MiningJunkie: Where did that comment come from? Turd hasn't posted here nor did he pen the piece.

cashonly's picture

The perfect symbol

the Ouroboros ......

perfect symbol for a country who exported its jobs to increase wealth.

Dr Jerome's picture


I got lucky. Thank you for the thoughtful and detailed article, SR

Green Lantern's picture

There is a saying I've heard

There is a saying I've heard many times that goes like this "Notice What You Notice"  Not sure who first coined the phrase, but it is often used as an awareness tool.  Inevitably, each of us will notice something different just like a rawshack test. We all see the world through our own lense of our own experience and beliefs.  A wise teacher once told his student that when pondering a riddle no man is right in his answer for each feels justified in his thinking so he'll ascert his "rightness"  Each is in his own place according to his understanding.  So now that I've made it that I can't be wrong in my reply, I'll share what I notice since  I the observer noticed it I can't be wrong (in my own reality).

I don't know AM's full intention or the "right" answer other then I do know that what he writes it is often relevant right now to the markets.  How do I know?  He told us this week in The Set-Up.  Which by the way it was a very interesting week especially if you consider the theory of of the "Macrocosm" later in my reply

An aside, cycle analysis has become commonplace in the period since I started this thread up. I leave readers to consider cause and effect there, but also advise caution against looking at the wrong cycles when major forces are exerted upon markets. I'm not going to go into details. It's in the flow of posts I make at TFMR realtime, and described better in RNP.

So unless AM is hypocrite, he is pursuing his agenda  of presenting relevant information.  To me relevant to the future of gold, geopolitics and even relevant to TFmetals.   However, his style is much different than other metal writers and does so in a manner similar to the Socratic method, he invokes questions to stimulate critical thinking.  It is a fairly enlightened way of teaching because by doing so he by passes your ego and your opinions and gives you room to consider and reconsider your positions.

NO man likes to be wrong and the moment you are told you are wrong or invalidated, your back is against a wall and there can be no room for discovery aka  Saving Face.   Almost all arguments on the blogisphere stem from this very fact.  If you clicked through AM's links to the article on society consumes itself on resentment, you found another interesting article which was very appropriate.

Of course, it takes an incredibly self honest individual to assess his own believes and willing to let go the non-productive ones. Something that AM does uniquely of all the writers in the metals realm.

Ok, enough of my observations on the writer,

So here is what I notice.  My answer done via quotes because I'm lazy tonite.

I'll start with Wikipedia...

Macrocosm and microcosm is an ancient Greek Neo-Platonic schema of seeing the same patterns reproduced in all levels of the cosmos, from the largest scale (macrocosm or universe-level) all the way down to the smallest scale (microcosm or sub-sub-atomic or even metaphysical-level). In the system the midpoint is Man, who summarizes the cosmos.

Macrocosm/microcosm is a Greek compound of μακρο- "Macro-" and μικρο- "Micro-", which are Greek respectively for "large" and "small", and the word κόσμος kósmos which means "order" as well as "world" or "ordered world."

Today, the concept of microcosm has been dominated by sociology to mean a small group of individuals whose behavior is typical of a larger social body encompassing it. A microcosm can be seen as a special kind of epitome. Conversely, a macrocosm is a social body made of smaller compounds
Kind of like fractals. Of course, good writers understand this

A macrovirus is a fictional construct to describe a virus that is larger than usual, e.g. beyond the need of a microscope for the human eye to see it. As with real life viruses, they need other creatures to survive through a parasitic or carnivorous relationship.

For a full synposis of this episode see...

Finally, another writer that knew something about the cycles of life, endings and beginnings.  I had to look up Sixth age since it's been a long time since I read Shakespeare.  It's a biblical reference and again invokes cycles.

All the world’s a stage,
And all the men and women merely players;
They have their exits and their entrances,
And one man in his time plays many parts,
His acts being seven ages. At first, the infant,
Mewling and puking in the nurse’s arms.
Then the whining schoolboy, with his satchel
And shining morning face, creeping like snail
Unwillingly to school. And then the lover,
Sighing like furnace, with a woeful ballad
Made to his mistress’ eyebrow. Then a soldier,
Full of strange oaths and bearded like the pard,
Jealous in honor, sudden and quick in quarrel,
Seeking the bubble reputation
Even in the cannon’s mouth. And then the justice,
In fair round belly with good capon lined,
With eyes severe and beard of formal cut,
Full of wise saws and modern instances;
And so he plays his part. The sixth age shifts
Into the lean and slippered pantaloon,
With spectacles on nose and pouch on side;
His youthful hose, well saved, a world too wide
For his shrunk shank, and his big manly voice,
Turning again toward childish treble, pipes
And whistles in his sound. Last scene of all,
That ends this strange eventful history,
Is second childishness and mere oblivion,
Sans teeth, sans eyes, sans taste, sans everything.

thedukes's picture

THE SILVER CODE: “Something Very,Very BIG is About to Happen”

John B. Wells caravan to Midnight Episode 68

DeaconBenjamin's picture


I would love to read the article about Montenegro.

Spartacus Rex's picture

19- Gee I M now a 5gm Gold Ingot! LOL

Apparently I do not watch enough TV, & like the Dorsey Brothers (J&T) Bands, so what the heck picked Jimmy Dorsey.

BTW, the very last question was a no brainer guess based upon who doing the survey.

Cheers, S. Rex

Hammer's picture

11 and a gold ingot with no

11 and a gold ingot with no cheating.

Bonus link

David Johnsen, Exec Who Runs Barclays' LX Dark Pool, Was Once Fired By Goldman Sachs By Marcus Baram on June 27 

This story has been updated to clarify that Goldman Sachs was not in talks with Barclays executive Bill White about a job, despite rumors to the contrary.

The dark pool run by Barclays, the venerable British bank sued by the New York attorney general on Wednesday for fraudulent activities related to high-frequency trading, is supervised by an executive who was fired by Goldman Sachs two years ago for negligent oversight of that bank's dark pool.

David C. Johnsen, the director of the bank's Electronic Trading Business Development, was hired at Barclays soon after being fired by Goldman Sachs on March 9, 2012, for poor supervision of its Sigma X dark pool. Johnsen was terminated due to "concerns related to the performance of his supervisory responsibilities," according to the BrokerCheck report maintained by the Financial Industry Regulatory Authority, Wall Street's self-regulator.

Green Lantern's picture

Cliff note version for those

Cliff note version for those of you that hate riddles and philosophy.  There are no endings.  Only transitions.  Unless you believe in Armageddon.   Everything you needed to learn about life you learned in 11th grade Chemistry when you studied the Krebs Cycle.  Things just transition from one state to another.  Energy can't be created or destroyed.  Boring stuff but it was analogy for other stuff.   

Spartacus Rex's picture

@ Hammer...

How did you manage to get a gold ingot w/ only 11 if you weren't cheating? cheeky Sorry, maybe they award the ingots to everyone just for taking the quiz.  blush Cheers & Semper Fi, S. Rex

Hammer's picture

Professor Roy Jastram back in

Professor Roy Jastram back in the 70s 80s had a great deal to say. If you find his book, great. If not, here is a very brief summary.

In deep history, the image of the snake has always been associated with money. By extension (and these are my own thoughts off the top of my head thoughts), wouldn't a snake eating its own tail imply the end and restart of itself ? (I do know also the well documented associations with the center of the universe and other associations - fascinating stuff :)

Spartacus Rex's picture

@ Dr J...?

Which Article? Perhaps you meant to say: "Thank you for the thoughtful and detailed article, (AM)"? Cheers, S. Rex

Hammer's picture

SR, no chance with the Gold

SR, no chance with the Gold Rush question and lucked out on several others.....................anyway, I'm taking my little au biscuit prize and disappearing down a cave ala Gollum................cheeky See you in a  couple of millenia !

Hammer's picture

Big Think time 

Big Think time surprise

Dr Jerome's picture

My confusion

Somehow I continue to confuse you, Sparticus Rex, with Argentus Maximus, to whose article I referred this time. I need to start looking at avatars more closely. But I like reading your posts as well, SR!  blush

Spartacus Rex's picture

@ Hammer The AU Standard

Professor Jastram was @ UC Berkeley's School of Business Administration unfortunately and not at Boalt Hall studying Law, ergo was not aware the the U.S. Dollar is actual defined in Law thus in the Statutes to this very Day!

I understand you might not possess a J.D., but you still understand the meaning of "Statutory" Right? I'm sure you know how to avoid any chance of being charged for "Statutory" Rape. Cheers & Semper Fi, S. Rex

Dagney Taggart's picture

"Wealth neither Created nor Destroyed.

It's simply transferred."

Not sure I agree entirely but perhaps I don't understand.

Structural steel, rebar, and concrete organized within a sound structure = wealth X. Same steel, rebar, and concrete laying in a mangled heap = wealth X? If not, who was the difference transferred to?

Spartacus Rex's picture

Dr. J...

yes Just trying to make sure credit given to whom it was actually due. Cheers

argentus maximus's picture

@Hammer: You are quite

@Hammer: You are quite correct. The snake has other traditional meanings some of which contribute to the greater story.

Spartacus Rex's picture

@ Dagney

Different type of Capital altogether. Does that Help? Cheers, S. Rex

Dagney Taggart's picture



That would be an interesting blog piece: Defining "Wealth" and the types of wealth that would be most valued in the next paradigm. Maybe it's been done already. I'm too lazy right now to look.

Spartacus Rex's picture

Get Ready To Rumble

Live 24 hours gold chart [Kitco Inc.]

Live 24 hours silver chart [ Kitco Inc. ]

Spartacus Rex's picture

@ Argentus Maximus


Re: " Emblems are illustrations or ideograms, like an illuminated stained glass church window, they tell a story, or convey a message and if the looker is illiterate they still accomplish communication of the message."

True, but we are merely repeating ourselves.



Cheers, S. Rex

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