Home Political science The colder war
and the Man
Marin is that rare person who is both academically smart and street smart. He was a university math professor and has a bent for science. And it didn't take him long to put theory into practice, analyzing the fundamentals of mining companies and oil companies—geology, mineralogy, engineering, permitting, management, and a score of other disciplines.
There are thousands of such companies, and they're represented by the most volatile class of stocks you can find. Over the course of a commodity cycle, many of the small ones are capable of moving 100 to 1 in price, or more. Most of them turn out to be just black holes for capital, however. Speculators in this area seldom appreciate how great the potential can be and the severity of the risk. Paradoxically, however, companies with the lowest risk can have the highest potential—if the speculator knows what to look for.
And this is an area where Marin really shines. He not only has a strong academic background in oil, gas, unconventional energy, uranium, and mining, he also has a proven hands-on, boots-on-the-ground record of building and running successful companies. In particular, he's largely responsible for putting Canada's third-largest copper mine into production—all the way from property acquisition to financing, construction, and profitable operation. That's a rare accomplishment and extraordinary for a 30-year-old (his age at the time).
He was one of the largest investors in the company early on. He's even now one of the most successful financiers in the resource exploration business and runs four hedge funds, where he and I are the largest investors. (He puts his money where his mouth is.) The funds have outperformed the TSX-V index by 600 percent over the past five years, despite holding large cash balances. In both relative and absolute terms, it's one of the most exceptional performances I've ever seen.
But it's not just knowledge and technical expertise that put Marin at the top. It's also his people skills. The son of Croatian immigrants, Marin had (what turned out to be) the good fortune to be born on the wrong side of the tracks. So he's not just book smart, but street smart. Whether it's with the president of a company or the president of a country, he knows how to relate to them over a bottle of something potent. Watching him ask questions and get answers as few people can, I'm forced to remark that he could have been the type of police detective they do TV shows about. And he's a world-class poker player.
With that background, he's now concentrating on finance. I've been in the resource finance business for about 40 years and have gotten to know most of the movers and shakers. Many of them—like Robert Friedland, Lukas Lundin, Frank Giustra, and Ross Beaty—are multibillionaires. Marin will join their ranks, quite possibly in this cycle—since, as I write, resource stocks are at a historic bottom. I saw him cut the deal that founded the largest shale gas company in Europe. And we were recently in Albania together to assess what may become Europe's largest onshore oil producer.
I've been to more than 135 countries, but Marin is starting to close in on me. We've traveled through the Balkans, across Iraq, through Asia and South America, as well as all over North America together. Travel becomes an aggravation once you've done enough of it, but it's essential in this business. One reason is that you want to meet a company's management in their element and see how things are going with your own eyes. Another is to understand the local political situation, a theme that's central to this book. In today's world—much more so than in even the recent past—the world's 200+ governments are the biggest factor in resources. Their leaders and bureaucracies determine whether a resource can even be exploited, what workers are paid, and how much will be left over after the government extracts its royalties and taxes.
Hence, a good part of this book explains how international politics relate to energy and how the worldwide energy picture is likely to evolve over the next decade—especially with regard to Russia, and more particularly with regard to Vladimir Putin, who, at age 62 as I write, is likely to be on the scene for years to come. He's both a lot smarter and a lot tougher than any of his counterparts in the West, and he will be a big part of what will make the next decade among the most "interesting" (to use that word as the Chinese do) in world history.
You're going to be glad you read this book.
Author of The International Man, Strategic Investing, Crisis Investing, Totally Incorrect, and Right on the Money,
Chairman, Casey Research
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