Friday, November 27, 2009

San Francisco Hard Assets 2009 Conference

This past weekend, I attended the Hard Assets 2009 Investment Conference in San Francisco. Once or twice a year, I make the trek from Silicon Valley to downtown San Francisco to attend either this conference or the San Francisco Money Show. These investment conferences are held each year at the downtown San Francisco Marriott Hotel.

Usually, the Hard Assets conference has a carnival-like atmosphere with subject matter that generally focuses on precious metals, mining, oil, and gas. Many of the exhibitors in the investment conference are foreign mining companies. These are largely listed on the Canadian stock exchanges, most notably the Toronto Stock Exchange (the TSX). For several years, many of the exhibitors touted penny stocks of questionable quality. There were a lot of dotcom exhibitors, and even mining companies that actually became dotcoms to feed off of the associated hype. This came at a time when the prices for gold, oil, and other commodities were depressed.

One would think that with gold prices near record highs, that the conference would be far more upbeat.  But,  the conference is definitely toned down compared to past years. The world economy in general decline has overshadowed the focus of the conference, and there was little to celebrate among the exhibitors.

Among the speakers at the conference, the flamboyant James Dines stands out among the crowd. Mr Dines has been touting something every year since about the late 1960s, whether it is gold, dotcom stocks, or uranium stocks. Mr. Dines is the publisher of The Dines Letter, and the author of the book Mass Psychology. While his booth is usually rimmed by half a dozen blond, blue-eyed assistant (i.e., bimbos), I counted at most two this time around, and didn't even see Mr. Dines there. So, if James Dines in cutting back, you know times must be tight.


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