“Where have you been?” a concerned reader asked…

The reader noticed that many of the daily essays over the past two weeks have been reruns of previous “classics”… or were authored by other folks.

So, they asked, “Where’s Jeff?”

The short answer is… I was on vacation. I typically take a couple of weeks off each summer to hang out with family and friends.

But most of the time, you’d never know that. No matter where I am in the world, I almost always find a way to follow the markets, comment on the action, and write about what’s happening every day.

Last summer, for example, as I was traipsing through an Ecuadorian rainforest, my guide took me two hours out of the way of the camp so that I could email an essay to my publisher. But I didn’t have that luxury last week.

This year, my vacation was to a little town in Italy called Fabbriche di Vallico.

My father-in-law, Benito, was born in this town. He hadn’t seen it in 70 years, since his family moved to Argentina to escape World War II.

So, for his 80th birthday, I thought it would be a nice idea to take Benny back to his hometown so he could show his grandsons the town of which he always spoke so affectionately.

But… there’s no internet in Fabbriche di Vallico.

There aren’t many people, either. The population of the whole town is maybe 200 people. Most of the folks are elderly. The young folks move away.

The technological revolution has bypassed the town. There’s no internet. Cell phone service is spotty. And the few residents who have television spend time each day adjusting the “rabbit ear” antennas.

So, this wasn’t a conducive environment in which to follow the action in the stock market. And I struggled to stay on top of market conditions.

But it didn’t matter. Despite the chaos… despite the stock market volatility… despite the ups and downs in my daily account balance…

…I realized something far more important.

Five minutes after we arrived in Fabbriche di Vallico, my father-in-law was walking down the main street in his hometown. “I walked this street every day to go to school,” Benny said to my sons.

“We’d stop here for an ice cream,” Benny said as he pointed to the only grocery store in town.

We spotted an elderly man sitting on a bench overlooking the river that flowed through the town. Benny, my 80-year-old father-in-law, picked up his walking pace and nearly sprinted towards the bench.

“I’m Benito,” my father-in-law said.

“I’m Mauro,” the man on the bench said in response.

Benny and Mauro were best friends when they were 10 years old. They played marbles on the streets of their town before school. They swam together in the river after school.

They both cried as they relived their memories and shared stories with the rest of us.

Moments later, a man named “Pee Pee” joined us. He was another of my father-in-law’s childhood friends. Benny, Mauro, and Pee Pee hugged each other and cried.

Pee Pee offered to show us all the house in which Benny was born and spent the first 10 years of his life. It was up in the hills above the town. “No one lives there anymore,” Pee Pee said. “My son used to live there. But he moved on 10 years ago. It’s been vacant ever since.”

We climbed the hill to Benny’s old house. It was a good hike – maybe half a mile uphill, overlooking the entire town of Fabbriche di Vallico.

The house was in shambles. Decades of neglect had taken its toll. Trash was piled up outside. Mouse droppings were everywhere inside. But Benny didn’t seem to notice…

“This is where my mom cooked dinner for us,” Benny said as he pointed to the stove. “This is where my dad would tell us stories about hunting and traveling.”

Benny didn’t seem to notice the garbage, the rat infestation, or the dilapidated state of the home. He only saw his childhood. He saw the memories that lived 70 years before.

We walked back down the hill into the center of town. By that time, word had gotten out that there were visitors. Several more of Benny’s childhood friends were there to greet him. Everyone cried.

My sons heard stories of life before World War II. They heard how the children of Fabbriche di Vallico would forage for truffles before school and how they’d swim in the river after school. They’d play soccer in the field beside the river. And they’d march each day to the top of the hill to bring “Tia Lucinda” the ingredients for the soup that would feed most of the children their afternoon snack.

Then my sons also heard about the Nazi invasion. They heard how Mauro’s brother was executed in the town square. They heard how the farmlands were confiscated and destroyed. They heard how lucky my father-in-law was to leave the town when he did.

Then everyone said how happy they were to see Benny again. And Benny said how happy he was to be back home.

Everyone cried.

Yes, I know the importance of the market. Every day, the ups and downs of market conditions have ramifications on our financial well-being. And for most of my adult life, I’ve tried not to miss even one day of market action.

But seeing my father-in-law visit his hometown… seeing him recognize friends he hasn’t seen in 70 years… and seeing him share his childhood experiences with my sons… is far more important than the action in the financial markets.

The markets will be here tomorrow, and the next day, and the day after that.

Fabbriche di Vallico will probably not last another generation.

Best regards and good trading,

Jeff Clark

Reader Mailbag

Today in the mailbag, a Delta Report success story…

Hi Jeff. First off, I’d like to thank you for your consistent and perspicacious analysis of the markets. It is an invaluable guide to the trading strategies I use in trading the markets.

I followed your recommendation for aggressive traders [Subscribers can access this recommendation here.] and I bought puts on SPY and calls on VXX. I closed half of both positions for over 100% profits on Friday and I have the remaining half positions open if the markets fall even further and the VIX continues higher.

Your analysis of the markets is exceptional and I’m learning from them immensely. Keep up the great work!

– Chuks

And a reader responds to yesterday’s Minute, “This Is a Dangerous Setup,” with their strategy…

My plan still involves too much greed and worry. By looking at the debt clock, the actions of the present Congress, and the Federal Reserve’s two-step, it is obvious we will have a day of reckoning coming. But when? They continue to use financial “extend and pretend” along with gifted “BS with success”.

Apparently, they can fool the common folk all the time. I am trimming my holdings down to just a few and raising cash. I will probably miss out if money comes pouring in from other countries that are in worse shape.

Unless our president is bluffing, with his “art of the deal,” he is going to drag us and the world into a depression.

I am waiting for results, not blabbing about how great we will be. If the midterms go Democratic, oh boy… it’s up for grabs. Oh, and what happened to the party of restraint, the Republicans?

P.S. I went right to the SPY chart to see what you saw.

– Bernard

Thank you, as always, for your kind and thoughtful feedback. Keep it coming – along with any trading questions or comments – right here.