Compilation of information on ‘Strategic Investment’ newsletter
by Stephen Hewitt, May 2006
The newsletter "Strategic Investment" is a share tip-sheet, published from the USA, and with pretensions to be something grander, as its name perhaps implies. And it is not difficult to find evidence of an agenda which goes beyond the stated one of investment.
In 2002 Strategic Investment described one of its writers, Jack Wheeler, as follows: "As a veteran of six anti-Communist guerrilla conflicts, he's credited by many insiders for inspiring the "Reagan Doctrine" that supported freedom fighters.'
Some subscribers might have been surprised to find that they have paid to be subjected to what can at best be described as political propaganda.
For example, in the issue dated 1 March 2003, with the USA about to launch its war of aggression against Iraq, Daniel Denning, the editor, was writing things such as this:
"It's not Iraq's ability to project power as a nation-state that worries us. It's Iraq's membership in the vast network of global terror. More proof of this is likely to emerge in the coming weeks. But I, for one, am convinced of it logically."..."And so imagine a nuclear Iraq that could say to the rest of the Muslim world: give me your Jew-hating, anti-American, violent and desperate young men, come to my borders, train in my terror camps under my nuclear umbrella, take my weapons of mass destruction with you, and destroy the West. This is the scenario U.S. policymakers are trying to prevent."
In a different article in the same issue, the "veteran of six anti-Communist guerrilla conflicts", Jack Wheeler wrote:
"America is breathtakingly lucky to have a president who is fully aware of what is at stake now for our country and for all Western civilization."
The Fleet Street Letter is an English tip sheet, which is now owned by the same company that owns Strategic Investment. Interestingly, in 1987 a reviewer wrote: "The 'news and views' section seems to be something of an editorial self-indulgence - pontificating on by-election results is arguably a bit out of place in a tipsheet for which subscribers pay 50p per page." Nils Blythe, "Your Guide to the share tipsters", Investors Chronicle vol80/1015, 15-21 May 1987
This dossier is a compilation of information about Strategic Investment and associated individuals and companies. There is no attempt made here to draw any conclusions (yet), but simply to collate information.
Information from a printed copy of the newsletter
One well-known method for unscrupulous proprietors or associates of tip-sheets to make money at their subscribers expense works as follows. The tipsters or their associates buy some random share. Some time later the tip-sheet advises its subscribers to buy this share on some pretext or another. If there are enough subscribers their combined buying actions can move the price up. The tipsters can use this price movement as evidence of how good their tip was, creating a bubble effect. They can also use the higher price as an opportunity to sell their shares at a profit. Of course there are many possible variations on this basic idea. To avoid this possibility, you might expect that a reputable tip-sheet at least would have a policy of not trading in the shares that it wrote about. So what is the policy of Strategic Investment? Well it's quite clear. The following is from Strategic Investment's small print (which is reproduced in full below): "London-Washington Publications Ltd., its officers and owners, and the contributors to Strategic Investment may, from time to time, have positions in investments referred to herein."Incidentally, at the time of writing, there is no company called "London-Washington Publications" registered in England and Wales.
This is the small print at the bottom of page 2 of a printed copy of Strategic Investment as received in 2003 through the post by subscribers in Britain:
STRATEGIC INVESTMENT (ISSN 1042-4237), Volume 18 Number 2, is owned by Agora Financial Publishing, a limited liability company. It is published monthly for US$198 per year for U.S. residents by Agora Inc., 808 St. Paul St., Baltimore, MD 21202. Periodicals postage paid at Baltimore, MD and additional mailing offices. POSTMASTER: Send address changes to Strategic Investment, 808 St. Paul St., Baltimore, MD 21202-4799 or P.O. Box 1051, Fort Erie, ON L2A 5N8. © 2003 by The Daily Reckoning LLC. Address subscription and renewal orders, correspondence related to subscriptions and changes of address to Strategic Investment, 808 St. Paul St., Baltimore, MD 21202. Customer Service: for U.S. residents 1-800-433-1528; for non-U.S. residents 1-508-368-7498. For address changes, enclose the mailing label from a recent issue and your new address. The information in Strategic Investment has been carefully compiled from sources believed to be reliable, but the accuracy of the information is not guaranteed. Signed articles represent the opinions of the authors and not necessarily those of the editors. The editors do not necessarily approve or endorse the statements in advertising inserts that occasionally accompany this publication. London- Washington Publications Ltd., its officers and owners, and the contributors to Strategic Investment may, from time to time, have positions in investments referred to herein. The owner, publisher and editors are not responsible for errors or omissions. Rights of reproduction and distribution of this newsletter are reserved. Any unauthorized reproduction or distribution of information contained herein, including storage in a retrieval system, is expressly forbidden without the written consent of Strategic Investment. MANAGING EDITOR: Dan Denning; CONTRIBUTING EDITORS: Dr. Kurt Richebächer; Hon. Lord Rees-Mogg, Bill Bonner, Dr. Marc Faber, David Tice, Dr. Jack Wheeler; PRODUCTION: Becky Mangus; EXTRA COPIES: $16.25 each. Address editorial correspondence to Strategic Investment, 808 St. Paul St., Baltimore, MD 21202. All prices are in US$ unless otherwise indicated.Strategic Investment, 1 February 2003, page 2
Printed newsletters from 2002 and 2003 have the web address www.strategicinvestment.com as part of the title banner on the front page.
Information from "The Great Reckoning"
The "Hon. Lord Rees-Mogg" in the text above is William Rees-Mogg, the former editor of the Times. Another name connected with Strategic Investment, which does not appear in the newsletter quoted above, is James Dale Davidson. William Rees-Mogg and James Dale Davidson co-authored a book "Blood in the Streets: investment profits in a world gone mad". Later they wrote another book together - "The Great Reckoning" - on the dust jacket of which is written:
James Dale Davidson and Lord Rees-Mogg edit and publish Strategic Investment, one of the world's best-performing investment newsletters. Davidson is founder and chairman of the American National Taxpayers Union. He has written for the Wall Street Journal and numerous other national publications and is a principal of Strategic Advisors Corporation in Baltimore, Maryland. He is co-author of Blood in the Streets: Investment Profits in a World Gone Mad. Lord Rees-Mogg was Assistant Editor of the Financial Times in the 1950s and is an investment adviser. He was formerly editor of The Times and is Chairman of the Broadcasting Standards Council. In addition to co-authoring Blood in the Streets, he is the author of The Reigning Error: The Crisis of World Inflation."The Great Reckoning How the world will change in the depression of the 1990s", James Dale Davidson & William Rees-Mogg, revised edition 1993, Sidgwick and Jackson, a division of Pan Macmillan.
Acknowledgements in "The Great Reckoning"
There are two pages under the heading "ACKNOWLEDGEMENTS"; extracted here are the names that are mentioned.
We had other help and more tangible encouragement from our friends and colleagues; our agent, Theron Raines; and the good people at Simon & Schuster: Dominick Anfuso, Cassie Jones, Carolyn Reidy and Jack McKeown."page v, "The Great Reckoning", James Dale Davidson & William Rees-Mogg, 1993, Sidgwick and Jackson
By the way, at the bottom of the first page Davidson and Rees-Mogg write, for no discernible reason:
It is now deemed to be retrograde in some circles to uphold the contributions of great thinkers who happened to be European or white males. The current narrow-mindedness is unfortunate and counterproductive-but it unhappily arises from profound causes.
The last paragraph of acknowledgements reads:
Here are some of our friends to whom we offer special thanks; they helped us advertently or inadvertently: Michael Aronstein, Lee Auspitz, Greg Barnhill, Amy Bayer, Carter Beese, Josh Bigger, Natalie Bocock, Kingsmill Bond, Bill Bonner, Clementina Brown, Jim Buchanan, Tom Crema, Robert Czeschin, Dennis Davidson, Kent Davis, Adrian Day, John Deuss, Pauline Downs, Presley Edwards, Lee Euler, Marc Faber, Mark Frazier, Arthur Goodhart, David Hale, Rita Hamilton, George Hecksher, Paul Hewitt, Neil Howe, Mark Hulbert, Kathleen Juhl, David Keating, Dick Lamm, Nancy Lazar, Becky Manges, Steve Newby, Mancur Olson, John Rickmeier, Frank Riess, Nick Roditi, Bea Romack, Fiona Shields, David Shulman, Lenny Smith, Rita Smith, Tom Stanton, Nils Taube, Gordon Tullock, Gary Vernier, David Well, Jack Wheeler, and Chris Wood. If you are one of the many others who helped, and we have failed to thank you here, please don't take us off the Christmas card list. We appreciate every bit of help we get.page vi, "The Great Reckoning", James Dale Davidson & William Rees-Mogg, 1993, Sidgwick and Jackson
On the next page, the book is dedicated thus:
Dedicated with thanks to our friends: Carter Beese, Bill Bonner, John Deuss, Marc Faber, Kathleen Juhl, Frank Jungers, Steve Newby, Jim Rogers, Nils Taube, and Gary Vernierpage vii, "The Great Reckoning", James Dale Davidson & William Rees-Mogg, 1993, Sidgwick and Jackson.
Appendix 6 of "The Great Reckoning"
Appendix 6 of this book is an advertisement. Titled "STRATEGIC INVESTMENT AND OTHER SERVICES FROM JAMES DALE DAVIDSON AND LORD REES-MOGG", it starts:
page 555, "The Great Reckoning How the world will change in the depression of the 1990s", James Dale Davidson & William Rees-Mogg, 1993, Sidgwick and Jackson.
IF YOU enjoyed this book, you may enjoy reading Strategic investment, the private financial advisory service edited by James Dale Davidson and Lord Rees-Mogg.
The track record of the specific recommendations has been superlative. Steve Newby, who picks Strategic Investment's Undiscovered Values, was a three-time winner of the USA Today/Financial News Network Investment Challenge in 1990 and 1991. He turned $500,000 into $1,498,763 in just twelve weeks. Strategic Investment also offers monthly advice about ways to profit from geopolitical developments.
There then follow some paragraphs boasting of past predictions supposedly made by Strategic Investment. For example:
Strategic investment analyzed the pending fall of the Berlin Wall in February 1989, ten months before the bulldozers actually started their work. Years before the banking crisis, the S & L bankruptcies, and the real estate bust became news, Strategic Investment told readers what to expect. Among other Strategic investment bull's-eyes: the collapse of oil prices in 1986, the 1987 stock market plunge, the meltdown in Tokyo (the Nikkei Dow put warrants we recommended gained 324%), the rapid rout of Iraq in the 1991 Persian Gulf War, and the death of the Soviet Union.page 555, "The Great Reckoning", James Dale Davidson & William Rees-Mogg, 1993, Sidgwick and Jackson.
On the next page, they invited readers to send their order for a 6 month trial subscription "for just $60 (in Canada and elsewhere - $75)" to "Strategic Investment, P.O. Box 2291, Washington, D.C. 20013-2291." The also wrote:
Strategic Investment contributing editor Steve Newby is a principal of Newby & Company. He can be reached at 6116 Executive Blvd., Suite 701, Rockville, Maryland 20852.page 556, "The Great Reckoning", James Dale Davidson & William Rees-Mogg, 1993, Sidgwick and Jackson.
Other services they were selling were introduced: "Davidson and Rees-Mogg have launched a new service to report on investment opportunities in the new emerging area of growth, Southern China and nearby regions of the Pacific rim." Readers were invited to send $60 to the same Washington P.O. box for a six month trial subscription to "Asian Growth". And similarly: "If you are interested in information on operating a business from home, Home, Inc. is a monthly newsletter with many practical tips. An introductory one-year subscription is available for $29 from Home, Inc., P.O. Box 2291, Washington, D.C. 20013- 2291."
Finally they wrote:
James Dale Davidson and Lord Rees-Mogg also offer private consultation to corporations and individuals and are principals in a money-management firm specializing in hedging and capital preservation. For more details, contact Davidson and Rees- Mogg at P.O. Box 2291, Washington, D.C. 20013-2291, or 17 Pall Mall, London, England SW1Y 5NB.page 556, "The Great Reckoning", James Dale Davidson & William Rees-Mogg, 1993, Sidgwick and Jackson.
Information from company websites
As at January 2006, the website www.agora-inc.com is evidently the website of Agora Inc, the publisher of Strategic Investment. We know this, because the page www.agora-inc.com/index.html has the heading "Hello & Welcome To Agora, Inc." This page also tells us that the "President and founder" is William Bonner. The page www.agora-inc.com/history.html gives some more snippets of information about Agora Inc., amongst other things, it was started in 1979 "outside Washington D.C.".
An internet whois enquiry shows the registrant for www.agora-inc.com to be "Agora Publishing Company 14 W. Mt Vernon Street Baltimore MD 21201"
This website lists many related companies. It's not explicitly stated that they are owned by Agora Inc., but that is the implication.
People associated with "Strategic Investment"
Printed on a Strategic Investment glossy cardboard "Welcome" folder, posted to new subscribers in 2002, was an introduction to "the finest investment team ever assembled". The names listed were:
- Rees-Mogg - amongst other things, described as a "a trusted adviser to some of the wealthiest families in Europe, a confidant of Margaret Thatcher, and a co-founder of Strategic Investment."
- Bill Bonner - the folder seems a little coy about Bonner's history, with the only definite activity mentioned being "Bill Bonner has been delivering hard-hitting contrarian analysis of the stock market every day for over two years running." For a man over fifty years old, that doesn't seem to be telling us much. It also makes the vague assertion "He's one of the most successful entrepreneurs and newsletter pulishers [sic] in America today".
- Dr. Marc Faber - "Born and educated in Switzerland, Dr. Faber began his investment career on Wall Street but has been stationed in the Far East since 1973. He also headed the Hong Kong office of one of the world's largest investment banking firms, Drexel Burnham Lambert, during its heyday from 1973 to 1990"
- Dr. Jack Wheeler - 'He personally discovered three tribes never before contacted by civilization and has sky dived at the North Pole. As a veteran of six anti-Communist guerrilla conflicts, he's credited by many insiders for inspiring the "Reagan Doctrine" that supported freedom fighters.'
- David Tice .."is the founder and director of David W. Tice & Associates, a capital management firm in Dallas, Texas."
- Dan Denning - the editor.
An advertisement with a similar list of names, and with similar details to those printed on the folder is still (at the time of writing, May 2006) on the web http://www.isecureonline.com/Reports/DRI/SteerClear/HOME.CFM?PAGE=2&PCODE=WDRIC514&ALIAS=BITS2 At the time of writing, these details (and in fact the entire contents of the web page) are identical to a page that was on the web in 2002. Note that this web page is is not on the website of Agora Inc., but you can authenticate it by starting from a web page that is on Agora's website, namely http://www.agora-inc.com/reports/DRI/SteerClear/ which will redirect your browser to a page on www.isecureonline.com
This web advert contains one name that wasn't mentioned on the folder - Eric J. Fry. And of him, Agora's advertisement says: "Eric's specialized in international equities since the early 1980s. For 10 years, he was a professional portfolio manager. He's also editor of grantsinvestor.com -- an online investment publication -- and the author of the first comprehensive guide to American Depositary Receipts, International Investing with ADRs".
The web advert also adds that Wheeler is in the Guinness book of records for his sky diving at the North pole. It also adds that Rees-Mogg is a "director of the Private Bank of London" and that he co-founded Strategic Investment in 1984.
James Dale Davidson is mentioned on this page on the Agora website http://www.agora-inc.com/aws/home.cfm?code=19 which includes the words (at the time of writing, May 2006): "You'll also hear from Strategic Investment founder James Dale Davidson;"...
The Fleet Street Letter and other tipsheets in England
The Investors Chronicle article cited above tells a little of the history of a tipsheet published in England, called "The Fleet Street Letter":
Nils Blythe, "Your Guide to the share tipsters", Investors Chronicle vol80/1015, 15-21 May 1987, p20
The tipsheets are not bad at making money for themselves either. Consider the story of Nigel Wray, King of the tipsheets. On 1976 - backed by Clubman's Club founders, Bob Tanner and Peter Whitfield - he bought the Fleet Street Letter, a tipsheet which had been around since well before he was born. In its first year under his editorship, turnover was a modest £17,000. But by '81 he had built up subs and profit sufficiently to bring The Fleet Street Letter plc to the USM. In 1983 Michael and David Green's Carlton Studios reversed into it, to form Carlton Communications.
In November 1985 the tipsheet business - with Wray still at the helm - was sold to the acquisitive Barham Group for £12.3m. In the year to 31 January 1987 Fleet Street Publications made a profit of over £1.9m on a turnover of about £4.5m. Wray remains a non-executive director of Carlton, with 1m shares (current price over £13 each). He is an executive director of Barham, with 1/2m shares (currently 185p) and a non-executive director of UTC (stockbrokers, corporate financiers and makers of Slush Puppies). His latest vehicle is property company, Gilbert House, in which he holds over 12m shares (current price 103p). That is not a bad little portfolio for a man who started with a few thousand pounds ten years ago.
This article gave the address of the Fleet Street Letter as 3 Fleet Street, London EC4Y 1AU and mentioned that the masthead of the tipsheet said "Established 48 years". This date is roughly consistent with what is on the Agora website at the time of writing (May 2006) at http://www.agora-inc.com/brochure/15.html "Founded in 1938, The Fleet Street Letter is the oldest investment newsletter in Britain."
The Investors Chronicle article also listed other guides published monthly by Fleet Street Letter at the same address. These were "The New Issue Share Guide", "Unit Trust Letter", "USM Share Guide", "Amateur Chartist", "Venture Opinion" and "The Penny Share Guide". Penny Share Guide is listed as a title on Agora's website at http://www.agora-inc.com/brochure/15.html. Back in 1987, Nils Blythe wrote of it: "Founded over 9 years ago by John Gommes (now of the rival of Penny Share Focus) it was bought by Carlton Communications in March 1983 and in now part of the same stable as Fleet Street Letter and many others. Edited by John Snowden"...
Other tipsheets reviewed in the 1987 Investors Chronicle article were "Quantum Leap" of Canister House, Jewry Street, Winchester, Hants, SO23 8RY, "Penny Share Focus" of 11 Blomfield Street, EC2M 7AY, "Stockmarket Confidential" of 57-61 Mortimer Street, London W1N 7TD and "City Letter" of 46 Westbourne Grove, London, W2 5SH.
Of these, Stockmarket Confidential is now listed as a title on Agora Inc's website. The 1987 article stated: "Previously known by a variety of names - Yours financially, for example - it assumed its present guise in 1982. Now published by Stonehart Publications together with Unit Trust Selector and Money Power." The name Stonehart also appears on Agora's website: "Stonehart Direct Marketing Services is the list-broker arm of Fleet Street Publications." (http://www.agora-inc.com/brochure/14.html, May 2006)
As for circulation figures:
No audited figures are available but, in addition to the phenomenal success of Penny Share Guide, John Snowden of Fleet Street Publications claims 16,000-19,000 for Fleet Street Letter and fractionally more for New Issue Share Guide. The others are coyly described as 'under 10,000'. David Nutt of Stonehart Publications claims 8,000 fully paid subscribers for Stockmarket Confidential, with another 4,000 on the free trial offer.Nils Blythe, "Your Guide to the share tipsters", Investors Chronicle vol80/1015, 15-21 May 1987, p21
- External article: Speaking Out I'm glad the CIA is 'immoral' Thomas W. Braden, The Saturday Evening Post, 20 May 1967, page 10 - 14