August 27, 2010 – The San Francisco Money Show

Featured Trades: (GOLD), (GLD), (GDX)
SPDR Gold Shares ETF
Market Vectors Gold Miners ETF

1) The San Francisco Money Show. I attended the Woodstock of investment conferences last week, the San Francisco Money Show, which offered an entertaining three ring circus of traders, foreign exchange models, options platforms, newsletters, cruises, video broadcasts, and more.

The cavernous Marriott Marquis hotel and convention center South of Market on 4th Street was absolutely bubbling with new ideas. You couldn't walk five feet without tripping over a great investment theme, and information overload was the problem of the day. There was a plethora of celebrity speakers, including Elaine Garzarelli, John Mauldin, and Think or Swim founder, Tom Sosnoff.

There really is no corner of the financial markets that was not well represented by market makers, analysts, technology providers, and investors– thousands of them. With the soaring level of US government debt scaring the daylights out of everyone, the precious metals dealers were there in force.

Of course, the hard asset crowd was everywhere, and you could not swing a dead cat without hitting a miner looking for new funding. Never mind that the barbaric relic went up for all the wrong reasons. The dollars they're making are still just as good at the bar. The only thing missing from the show was the long predicted hyper inflation. Want to prospect in the Ivory Coast? No problem.

I was pleasantly surprised by the diversity of major corporate sponsors there to promote their own shares, like Darden Restaurants, Proctor and Gamble, Roche, Sanofi Aventis, Vale, and Nidec, several of which are great investments. A variety of oil service companies were also well represented. A 'green' section offered a look at wind, solar, and geothermal energy providers.

I took the opportunity to talk with companies about everything from the latest drilling costs, long term food prices, and the true cost of geothermal, to the clever play in gold coins (go for those struck at the San Francisco Mint). I was constantly amused every few minutes by attendees who, seeing my nametag, asked to have a photo taken with the one and only Mad Hedge Fund Trader, and to sign their program.

After I make my fortune, there was even a booth extolling the virtues of retiring on the beach in Costa Rica or Belize. It was a great opportunity to chat with the end investors who ultimately drive all these markets. All in all, it was a weekend well invested. For a calendar of future events, go to