I like to call Peru the Texas of South America.
It has nothing to do with footwear (the Texas cowboy boot is vastly superior to the Peruvian horseman’s boot) or cuisine, though I might have to give Peru the nod on that one… A good lomo saltado, a traditional Peruvian stir fry, might actually be worth killing for.
No, it has everything to do with attitude. In the eyes of a Texan, everything is bigger and better in Texas. Everything. No exceptions. And we all talk about Texas constantly. It’s just what we do.
Well, Peruvians feel the same way about Peru. Everything in Peru is better… the food, the women, the sunshine… even the bullfighters! And when you marry a Peruvian like I have, you’ve effectively committed yourself to a lifetime of regular visits to Peru.
Last month I found myself in Lima, the country’s capital, during the Feria del Señor de los Milagros, the city’s annual bullfighting festival.
My sister-in-law had an extra ticket for the corrida, the Spanish word for bullfight. (She’s a Millennial and it was critically important that she have selfies to add to her Instagram feed, and she didn’t want to go alone.)
So I spent my Sunday afternoon in the bullring.
While my sister-in-law might’ve been more interested in watching the strapping young matadors strut around in tight pants, I was really looking forward to the fights. I can’t call myself a true aficionado because that would imply a level of knowledge and expertise I don’t have.
But there’s something otherworldly about a bullfight. The tradition, the music, the artistry… even the blood. It’s something you have to see to understand.
There were three matadors that Sunday – an older, more established Spaniard and two younger, up-and-coming Peruvians – and each had very different styles.
Enrique Ponce, the Spaniard, played it conservatively.
Like all matadors, he had his moments of flair, and his technique was consistent and solid. But he’s also 45 years old, has a beautiful wife and child at home, and he’s a multimillionaire. He wasn’t interested in taking excessive risk and getting himself gored. He has far too much to lose.
Andrés Roca Rey was a lot more aggressive.
He’s 21, and despite being gored in five consecutive fights last year, still seems to believe he’s indestructible. And considering he managed to escape all five gorings without serious injury, perhaps he actually is indestructible. Who am I to say?
His signature move – and let me go on the record as saying this is utterly insane – was to move the cape from his right side to his left behind his back while thrusting his crotch in the direction of the charging bull. He’s lucky the bull didn’t make him a eunuch.
I’ll give the kid credit though. He put on one hell of show.
Not to be outdone, 22-year-old Joaquin Galdós had one of the best showings of his career, finishing the afternoon with three ears.
His technique was perfect. He mesmerized the bull with his cape work, and when it came time to deliver the death blow with his sword, he did so with surgical precision.
For the uninitiated, when a bullfighter performs exceptionally well, the president of the fight will give him an ear as a trophy. And if it’s a truly spectacular performance, in very rare cases the president will give two ears.
Well, Galdós won an ear with his first bull and came close to getting a second. The audience demanded it, only to be denied by the president.
But there would be no denying after Galdós faced his second bull. The president awarded him both ears, and he walked out of the ring showered with flowers and hats thrown down from the crowd.
It was the Texas equivalent of scoring five touchdowns in a Friday night high- school football game or slugging three home runs in a baseball game.
Now, I have no interest in fighting a bull with a sword. That’s insane.
But all of this talk about fighting bulls does bring up certain parallels to the market.
If you’re not aggressively buying tech stocks and Bitcoin, you’re effectively fighting the bull. Unlike a matador, you don’t actually have the power to kill the bull, but if you’re attempting to short this market, he most certainly can kill you.
A bullfighter is probably the wrong analogy here. A better one might actually be an American rodeo cowboy… a group of gentlemen that might be even more insane than Spanish matadors.
A rodeo cowboy isn’t looking to kill the bull. He’s looking to ride it, at least for a short time. He’s eventually get thrown off, and he knows that going in. Buy you can bet he’ll ride that bull as long as he can.
That’s essentially what we’re doing in Boom & Bust and our other trading services.
We know the bull will throw us off eventually – which Harry talks about in his new book, Zero Hour – and that time is probably coming sooner rather than later. In the meantime, we’re riding this as long as we can, and making solid returns along the way.
Portfolio Manager, Boom & Bust