EDITOR NOTE: One learning that has come from the quagmire in Afghanistan is that governments (and everyday people) need some type of insurance policy “against freewheeling government spending and currency debasement.” For the Taliban, this insurance policy is poppy. It's the plant used to make morphine, codeine, and heroin. In the U.S., gold is the insurance policy in these uncertain economic times. Countries around the globe are stocking up on the historically valuable asset, as are private companies, like billionaire Peter Thiel’s Palantir Technologies. The company stockpiled $50 million in gold to protect itself from “a future with more black swan events.” The price of gold is currently being manipulated through “gold swaps and leases between central banks and bullion banks, and through the sale of futures contracts.” The free market won’t let gold stay this low forever. A spike is coming, so now may be the best time to pick up your non-CUSIP gold and silver insurance policy.
After 20 years, the longest war in U.S. history is finally coming to a (clumsily handled) close. The war on Afghanistan’s opium poppy production, on the other hand, looks set to escalate, at a potentially great expense to taxpayers.
In case you don’t know, Afghanistan produces a lot of the stuff. The United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) estimates that the country is responsible for a whopping 85% of global poppy supply, much of which is used to make morphine, codeine and heroin.
The Taliban “officially” banned poppy cultivation in 2000—but soon realized it couldn’t do without the crop. Poppy is “an attractive insurance policy,” a recent inspector general report says. It’s “lightweight, easy to transport, lucrative and it can be stockpiled to await more favorable market or security conditions.”
Since 2002, the U.S. has spent some $9 billion fighting the Taliban’s narcotics trafficking. Nevertheless, cultivation has continued to ramp up. Last year, the area used to grow opium poppy in Afghanistan increased 37% from 2019—even after U.S. air strikes destroyed a quarter of Taliban-run poppy fields in 2018.