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Latest Issue

What I Learned at Camp Kotok

August 16, 2019

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...

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