What Happens When the Rodeo Clowns Are in Charge of Our Money

|September 8, 2021

We went to the rodeo. It’s a local tradition this time of the year.

Men and women… boys and girls. They gallop into the arena to show us their skills.

But it’s the bulls that are the big show.

“How much do the riders win?” asked Mrs. Manward.

“Probably just enough to pay their insurance deductible,” we replied… proving with one sentence that we’re far too old to attempt such silly feats.

Most of the boys did fine. The cockiest of the lot used the bull’s first big leap as his springboard for a graceful exit.

“Give ’em a hand,” the announcer said. “It’s the only payoff they’ll get today.”

It was a quiet, thoughtful rider who had us wondering if Death were going to pay a visit.

The well-mannered kid – a high school senior – did well out of the chute. The bull spun left, and he followed it well. But just a few turns into it all, the bull had had enough.

The white beast with foot-long horns lowered his chest nearly to the ground and shot his back legs toward the afternoon sun.

The rider went for a ride.

That’s when all hell broke loose.

The young man fell to the ground, but his right hand was stuck under the rope on top of the bull’s back. At first, the bull didn’t seem to mind the fella being attached to him.

The duo danced around the arena. It was a bit more than a two-step. But the kid kept up.

Then the bull decided he’d rather be alone.

He spun to his right, in the tightest of circles… then did it again… and again.

By the time it was all done, the rider went around five times – his feet never hitting the ground. He spun in a near-vertical plane… like a child flung in circles as his old man grabs his hands and spins.

As the music stopped and the crowd grew worried and silent, the rodeo clown stepped in and slapped the bull between the horns.

The big beast paused.

The now-unconscious rider’s wrist finally slipped out from under the rope. He fell limp to the ground.

The older half of the crowd grasped.

The younger half rushed to upload their videos to the web.

A fellow cowboy grabbed the limp body in the mud from under the armpits and dragged it behind a closed gate, away from the crowd.

Soon enough, though, the blood that had been forced to the young man’s legs returned to his head.

He wobbled his way to his feet.

We could see half a smile on his face as he pulled back his sleeve to take a peek at his aching wrist.

The poor kid slept through half the fight.

But wait until he sees it on video.

All the King’s Clowns

You may be wondering what any of this has to do with investing… or economics… or any of the other things we tend to muse about.

You’re not alone. We’ve been wondering where we’re going with this since the second sentence.

But nobody said we need to follow the rules. Like a bull ride, don’t we just need to get to the end, with as many oohs and aahs as possible?

We just need to get through eight seconds… and then, we pray, we’ll land on our feet and get out of the way before the bull uses his horns to fling us like a bowling ball.

But isn’t investing much the same?

Don’t we just want to get to the buzzer with as high of a score as possible?

The analogies are clear.

Surely we could trod that well-packed earth and tell you something you’ve heard before.

Or what about the decadelong bull market we’ve ridden? Surely there are some ties even a lazy writer could pull together.

The ups, the downs, the snorting… the bullshit.

Ah, yes, anybody can see it.

It’s not territory we need to overcrowd.

We’d rather point at the clown – the fella with a smile painted on his scarred cheeks. He’s the man with all the power.

Nobody knows what his face looks like. Nobody knows his qualifications.

And yet, it’s all on his funky-suspendered shoulders.

If he does his job, the wild bull heads for the gate when its show is done. If the clown fails, the bull will buck all afternoon… until the crowd gives up and goes home.

Riders will get smashed. Judges will get speared. And the dairy cows out back… well, oh my.

What a time it would be.

In a corrupted rodeo, the clown could make quite a name for himself.

Again, he controls the fate of it all.

He could let the bulls play. He could let them buck and snort and step on a rider or two. The crowd would roar as the dazed men got to their feet and took a bow.

But that’s not part of the show.

The clown’s job is to keep things safe and orderly – to get the bulls to do their job and then move on.

If he does what he’s supposed to do, nobody will know he’s there.

And this, finally, is where we turn to what we know best… money.

Investors – especially those of us who have been in the arena a time or two – know that the clowns have screwed up.

The men in charge of our money forget that they’re not supposed to be part of the show.

They forget that their job is to merely see the bull in and protect the crowd as he goes out.

That’s it. Nothing more.

We clap and applaud as the markets hit new highs. We strap in and ride it as far and as long as we must. And we wait and watch as the clown puts on his makeup and takes to the TV.

Perhaps someday soon, he’ll take the stage and tell us our fate is no longer in our hands. The rope is tied too tight.

We can’t get loose.

Our fate is in the hands of a bunch of clowns.

Andy Snyder
Andy Snyder|Founder

Andy Snyder is the founder of Manward Press, the nation’s premier source of unfiltered, unorthodox views on money and what it means for a free society. An American author, investor and serial entrepreneur, Andy cut his teeth at an esteemed financial firm with nearly $100 billion in assets under management. Andy and his ideas have been featured on Fox News, on countless radio stations, and in numerous print and online outlets. He’s been a keynote speaker and panelist at events all over the world, from four-star ballrooms to Senate hearing rooms. Today, Andy’s dissident thoughts on life, liberty and investing can be found in his popular daily newsletter,  Manward Financial Digest.