This sunny Thursday morning in Moscow found me in the apartment doing some remote work on the laptop and thinking of restocking my emptying fridge. Inspired, I walked to my nearby farmer’s market.
Who do I run into just past the veggies and smoked fish section? The neighborhood “Znakharka”, my “healer-witch-seeress” acquaintance whom I have written about in the past, who cornered me. As I am the only “real” foreigner in this neighborhood (real being from across an ocean), she has regularly made it a point to educate me in her pithy pensioner way on the metaphysics of life and her peculiar prophecies. Whenever I run into her I am reminded that “I’m not in Kansas anymore”.
As an aside, Russians for centuries regarded these Znakharkas as “professionals” with the highest respect and honor for their ability to combine everyday skills and supernatural forces to treat people. By following superstitious beliefs, a Znakharka provided the remedies that the people believed in and trusted, such as potions, herbal treatments, spells, and divining portents of the future.
“So, ‘inostranets‘ (foreigner), are you still buying gold as I told you to?”
This lady has a real love of gold St. George coins, and has been collecting them it seems for years. She then proceeded to give me her market analysis.
“Do you know what it means when the price of old automobiles and old apartments goes up, when chicken, milk, potatoes, and benzine rise in price, and everybody is happy speculating? It means inflation is coming like a big wave and will hit us all unexpectedly.”
Thinking on what she was saying, although I do not hold with magic, witches, or the paranormal, she managed to get me dwelling on some market aspects, especially when the leaders of the world insist we have no inflation, by whatever latest measures are officially used. That doesn’t sit well with me, therefore from very different perspectives it looks like the Znakharka and I are in analytical agreement, and the famously touted 2% inflation ‘sweet spot’ is in reality a pipe dream. So digging down into her mentions, and using market references I found:
- Used car prices just hit all-time highs – worldwide.
- Secondary markets for homes are very tight despite the lowest rates in history.
- Over the last 12 months, Crude Oil is up 200+%, Gasoline is up 180+%, Lumber is up 270+%, Corn is up 85+%, and Cryptocurrencies as a broad class have risen over 500%.
- The non-sovereign or non-central bank cryptoverse, is like a weathervane searching for non-fiat asset security – not the US Dollar, Euro, Yen, or other. The Crypto market cap has increased over a trillion since 2020 to a US Dollar equivalent today of just over 2 trillion with very few use-cases.
- Stock equities boasted a greater than 30% crash (largest and shortest in history) rising then to new all-time highs in a period of under nine months (2020-2021) stimulated by continued, even accelerated QE.
- Central Banks are buying up their own issues as well as unrelated equities, which looks very much like kicking the can further down an ever-narrowing road.
Helping her with her bag, we sat down on a bench near the tram stop where we both lit up cigarettes.
“I use the internet, I see what is happening in your foreign cities, everything is conflict, speaking truth is now a problem, gender is a mystery, you want safety and order but not police, some lives matter a lot but you forget simply that all lives matter. On top of all this, no matter how we Russians live our lives here, far away from your warm country it is always bad for you and gives you gas pains. I tell you, my sister was born and always lived in Crimea, and she is very disturbed why foreigners do not believe that she and everyone she knows bless the day they decided to rejoin Russia. How can anyone mistrust what we all happily and finally voted for? Are we the last true democracy? You have also, and maybe worst of all – almost entirely lost your sense of national humor, with the exception that your leader now is older than Leonid Brezhnev was, now that is amusing!”
“I was born, raised, and have lived in the USSR and I see the difference between then and now in my country. I see clearly some of the most dangerous aspects of that old socialist regime are now popular in America and other European countries. You are even voting to choose it! This is why I buy gold, this is why I also look into these cryptocurrencies because the dollar and the other ‘valyutas’ (fiat currencies) are like the Soviet ruble once was under the communists, a propped up fantasy, printed into oblivion. I also know inflation, and this is an evil beast that will make itself known very soon, especially now that it is all but forgotten. It is simple arithmetic.”
I could tell she was just getting started, she was in her prophesy mode and I didn’t have all day to hang around discussing the meaning of life any further, so I made my hurried goodbye’s, grabbed my shopping bag, and made tracks out of there. She does have a way of making me think outside the usual box, maybe it is that aura of the “unknown”, or whatever it is that draws people to superstition. However, when distilled down to realities, she holds some valid if discomforting views. I’ll take her advice, with a small spin – I’ll buy some fractions of digitally issued gold and wait to see what develops.
Analyst Paul Goncharoff, Moscow