What I Learned at Camp Kotok

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MMT or the Magic Money Tree
A Fundamental Change in the US/China Relationship
Bone-Penetrating Exhaustion
Montana and Back to Puerto Rico

I am back from my 14th annual Maine fishing camp and the mood was decidedly different this year. The private event at Leen’s Lodge is generally called Camp Kotok in honor of David Kotok of Cumberland Advisors who started these outings many years ago. CNBC and others began calling it the “Shadow Fed” but it is really just a meeting of wickedly smart people focused on economics and markets. (I am allowed to attend for comic relief.) Throw in a little fishing, more fabulous food and wine than anyone should consume, formal debates and informal Q&A, and it really is one of the highlights of my year.

All this happens at a fishing lodge without many luxuries except for the food which is off the charts in the evenings. For lunch, all the boats meet at one spot and the guides cook what we catch in a 2+ hour experience. (Only the hardcore go out fishing afterwards.) The lunch conversations are simply fascinating.

I am still absorbing what I learned, but for me the general mood stood out more. We will get to that below. First, a point of personal privilege.

I first started writing Thoughts from the Frontline in August 2000. That makes this the beginning of my 20th year. I started with 2,000 email addresses from an earlier writing incarnation. I was still writing a print publication which I sold through the mail and thought I would just stick my letter on the internet for free and see what happened. Within two years I had canceled the print letter as the free publication’s growth went through the roof. Even now, I meet people all the time who say they read it from the beginning (or shortly thereafter).

Words cannot express my genuine gratitude that so many of you have read these letters for so long and continue doing so. Simply saying “thank you” doesn’t adequately express how truly, profoundly thankful I am you give me the single most important part of your life—your attention—when we are all so inundated with emails, TV, podcasts, Twitter, Facebook, and other ways to spend our time. The fact that you give some of that precious time to me and my humble musings is emotionally overwhelming.

I sometimes humorously say that each reader is one of my million closest friends, but it’s the truth. I feel you are indeed my friend as you spend your time with me. And my pledge for the next 20 years is the same as the last 20: to give you my unvarnished and true opinion, whatever it may be, as we try to make our way in an ever more volatile, changing world. And while it can’t fully express my feelings, still I say with a full heart (and maybe some moist eyes), “Thank you.”