Are you a deflationist? Or an inflationist? No matter which way you believe the wind will blow, the truth is this: it’s up in the air. But, as Jim Rickards explains, there are things you can do to cover your assets, no matter which one wins the tug-of-war. Read on…
There are two things you shouldn’t do this Election Day: one, vote; two, buy gold. Why? Chris Campbell explores this and more in today’s Laissez Faire Today. Read on…
America has about 4% of the world’s population, yet houses 25% of the world’s incarcerated. What’s going on here? Chris Campbell digs deep into the industry to figure out the truth. While many blame the private prison industry, the real culprit, says Chris, begins right outside your door. Read on…
“While I heartily subscribe to your premise of pursuing one’s dream,” one reader, Donald J., wrote, “there are alternate perspectives worth considering.”[We’re listening… go on.]“Some wiseguy once said that life is what happens to you while you’re waiting for something better to come along. Milton put it a little more poetically in one of his […]
Want to get rich? Don’t listen to financial “gurus,” says Chris Campbell. In today’s Laissez Faire Today, Chris shares a Zen proverb and shows how understanding it is the only real way to get rich (and live a rich life). Read on…
Where do great investors come from?I’m not sure what the hurdle rate for greatness is, but Guy Spier has put up impressive results. His Aquamarine Fund has returned 463% since inception in 1997, versus just 167% for the S&P 500 (a broad proxy for the market). Put another way, $1 million invested at inception is […]
Ben Franklin once said, “An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.” In today’s Laissez Faire Today, you’ll learn about one FREE website that has the potential to not only keep your family safe – but also open your eyes to what’s happening in your own neighborhood. Chris Campbell has all the details. Read on…
All over the world, power is dying. The dictators and tyrants of the world are no longer able to wield it like they once used to. And they’re losing it to the “little guy.” Chris Campbell shows you how to be the king of your castle by taking advantage of this fact. Today, you’ll learn how to grab “power gaps” in the market and channel them into your product idea or project. Read on…
The fireflies along the tidal rivers of Malaysia show "feats of synchrony that occur spontaneously, almost as if nature has an eerie yearning for order." Chris Campbell tells you where else this might occur in the world. Also, new technology may revolutionize the agriculture industry and what we think of as a farm.
Jeff Davis is running for Governor in Hawaii and has an interesting campaign strategy. Also, what motivates hackers is revealed and the findings might surprise you. Finally, Ferguson is discussed in a new light. Chris Campbell has more...
Next year is the 65th anniversary of the Peanuts comic strip. And Charlie Brown, Snoopy, Lucy and the rest of the gang will appear in their first full-length feature film in 35 years.One small company has the license to the Peanuts brand. The cash flow due to this company could be enormous. In late October, […]
When the government pumps trillions of dollars into the economy, they’re not actually printing the money. It enters as digital entries in banks across the country. It’s made the system fast, responsive, and, unfortunately, vulnerable. Now our money is no longer something we hold in our hands, but something that exists on a very susceptible network.
The so-called recovery is only built on debt and printed cash declares our own Byron King. In the long term, the only option for the government to continue financing it's operations is to print too many dollars. Money printing has it's limits, however. It's Byron's opinion that at some point, perhaps very soon, the government will have to turn to more desperate measures. Namely, capital controls. In the following featured essay, Byron outlines 4 probably ways the government will take your cash and one play you can buy through your broker to prepare today. Read on...
Americans expatriate because they want to get out of the country. Corporations expatriate for similar reasons. Clem Chambers explains...
In a 2009 article, the Huffington Post went into considerable detail about the number of people with PhD degrees in economics employed by the Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System. This is the government’s branch of the Federal Reserve. It is not one of the 12 regional Federal Reserve banks, all of which […]
Who can forget Robert Louis Stevenson’s Treasure Island? That map, marked with an “x,” is the stuff of high adventure.There is a modern-day equivalent of a treasure map, and it is just as coveted by those who seek reservoirs of oil and gas. It’s called seismic data.What are seismic data? In essence, they’re collected from […]
The U.S. dollar is the dominant global reserve currency. All markets, including stocks, bonds, commodities, and foreign exchange are affected by the value of the dollar.The value of the dollar, in effect, its “price” is determined by interest rates. When the Federal Reserve manipulates interest rates, it is manipulating, and therefore distorting, every market in […]
The game of speculation is the most uniformly fascinating game in the world. But it is not a game for the stupid, the mentally lazy, the person of inferior emotional balance or the get-rich-quick adventurer. They will die poor.– Jesse Livermore, How to Trade in StocksThe trouble with capitalism’s guardians is that they have no […]
John Foust, a Democrat running for the 10th congressional seat in Northern Virginia, is — like Gov. Terry McAuliffe and other state Democrats — gung-ho to expand Medicaid. His wife’s position is, shall we say, a bit more nuanced.Foust has slammed his opponent, Republican Del. Barbara Comstock, for her opposition to expansion. He has spoken […]
The midterm election season is upon us, and it’s a tossup whether the Republicans will win the Senate, or if President Obama, seemingly oblivious as conflict flares up around the world, will, through his continuous campaigning, keep Harry Reid in his majority leader seat.The only thing we know for sure is that sociopaths will be […]
I bet you use different kinds of money all the time, sometimes without even realizing it.In various online accounts, I currently have: some dollars, some pounds, and some euros. I have some air miles from two different credit card companies. I have some supermarket rewards points from three different companies. And I also have some […]
Alexander Hamilton was America’s first Secretary of Treasury under President George Washington. When he first entered office in 1789, America was an agricultural nation of just 4 million still broke from its financially costly victory over the British Empire in the Revolutionary War.The states had accumulated relatively massive debts to finance that war, which mostly […]
A great technology solves a problem that we didn’t know we had. It makes us aware of deprivations we didn’t know existed until we discover the new thing. Once discovered, we can’t go back.People in the 1950s, for example, never missed the smart phone. They were pleased to have a phone at all. But today, […]
Fifty years after the 1929 crash, a group of money managers and investment thinkers put together a collection of essays looking back at that experience. The result was a distillation of some pretty fine investment wisdom. Timely, I think, to review now.One of the contributors was Arthur Zeikel, then with Merrill Lynch. The title of […]
Although the mainstream media have turned its attention away from the wreckage of Obamacare, don’t think for a second that all is well.As the politicos in D.C. focus their attention on the midterm elections in November, now is a great time to study, prepare, and seek out the most affordable, accessible, and highest quality options […]
I’m sure you’ve seen the news. As if recent, past U.S. policy fiascos in Libya, Egypt and Syria were not enough, the wheels are now coming off the proverbial bus in Iraq, site of so much blood and treasure spent in the last decade.Radical Islamist armies are marching toward Baghdad, slicing through Iraqi government troops […]
Turn on the tube and economic ignorance seems to be everywhere. There is constant shilling for more government. Business is demonized. Man is said to be trashing the environment. “Workers and women are oppressed” is the constant mantra.And members of the clueless media nod their heads in unison.Only John Stossel has provided the fresh air […]
In early July 1944, delegates from 44 countries gathered at the Mount Washington Hotel in Bretton Woods, New Hampshire. A three-week summit took place, at which a new system was agreed to regulate the international monetary and financial order after the Second World War.The U.S. was already the world’s commercial powerhouse, having eclipsed the British […]
In the minds of many people around the world, including in the United States, the term “capitalism” carries the idea of unfairness, exploitation, undeserved privilege and power, and immoral profit making. What is often difficult to get people to understand is that this misplaced conception of “capitalism” has nothing to do with real free markets […]
Some people are saying it is just what the doctor ordered. Others are saying that the cure is worse than the disease.The Affordable Care Act? Reengagement in Iraq? Tea Party bullying in the GOP?Not this time. Just as protracted in the corridors of Congress and the White House is the debate over the proposed reform […]
In 1995, American agriculture underwent a profound, dangerous change.In that year, Monsanto and other companies pushed through approval for a handful of genetically modified (GM) organisms. These included canola oil tweaked to improve its flavor, potatoes modified to resist pesticide dousing, and tomatoes gene-spliced to delay ripening.“About half of all the crops planted on American […]
In 2012, money mandarins running the European Union chose stagnation over restructuring. Here’s a consequence of that choice: expectations for a self-sustaining economic recovery keep getting crushed.Two years ago, European Central Bank (ECB) chief Mario Draghi promised to do “whatever it takes” to hold the eurozone together. He bluffed nervous investors into believing in a […]
People jacked up about income inequality can find a new hobby. The 1% are victims of a doomsday machine, and the countdown is ticking. Machine, thy name is “family.”This came to mind as I was reading a preview of Columbia Professor Andrew Ang’s forthcoming, must-read book on Asset Management. Ang is that oxymoron, an exciting […]
The voting machine that is the market deemed an ounce of gold to be worth $1,600 a few days ago and then, whoops, two days later, that same market, the collection of rational minds that trade in the metal, valued that same ounce to be worth less than $1,400.
Keep in mind: These prices are in dollars that are not backed by anything other than Uncle Sam’s less-than-creditworthy promise.
Economists of the rational-expectations school and believers in the efficient-market hypothesis must be scratching their heads. These deep thinkers contend all information is known in the market. There are no such things as bubbles and busts.
Wikipedia explains rational expectations,
“it is assumed that outcomes that are being forecast do not differ systematically from the market equilibrium results. That is, it assumes that people do not make systematic errors when predicting the future, and deviations from perfect foresight are only random.”
Yep, that sounds exactly like you, me, and your idiot brother-in-law. Nobody makes mistakes when predicting the future.
At the same time, Eugene Fama, father of the efficient-markets hypothesis, says, “I think most bubbles are 20-20 hindsight.” When asked by John Cassidy at the New Yorker to clarify whether he thought bubbles can exist, Fama answered “They [bubbles] have to be predictable phenomena.”
Fama is no Nobel laureate, but he did co-author a textbook with Nobel Prize winner Merton H. Miller, and he himself has won plenty of prestigious awards for his theoretical work.
These guys can theorize all they want to, and win awards doing it, but what they have to say has nothing to do with how markets act and react.
This week’s Laissez Faire Club author, Alec Macfie, was an economist lecturing at the University of Glasgow back in the 1930s. He had a better head on his shoulders than today’s fuzzy-minded theoreticians who evidently haven’t taken the time to look out of their campus office windows to see how the world really works.
Macfie explores the ups and downs of the business cycle as well as investment booms and busts in his elegantly written Theories of the Trade Cycle. He not only, among other things, provides a clear synopsis of Hayek’s Austrian Business Cycle theory, but he also makes use of psychology to solve the business cycle puzzle. Investor errors are revealed in a crash as entrepreneurial errors are revealed by recessions. In Macfie’s view, the term error should be substituted with “excesses of optimism and pessimism.”
He explains that in a bull market the possibility of potential profits is spread by suggestion and is overemphasized. Investors hear the potential but not any opposing rational criticism. “A man acting under the influence of suggestion is like commander of a submarine observing his enemy through a periscope. He sees his easy prey and is impelled toward it, but his periscope cloaks from him the surrounding dangers,” writes Macfie.
But how could investors or entrepreneurs go from bullish to bearish so quickly to create huge drops in assets prices? A. C. Pigou, a renown English economist at the time, sheds some light on this, explaining, “An industrial boom has necessarily been a period of strong emotional excitement, and an excited man passes from one form of excitement to another more readily than he passes to quiescence.”
So for investors there is no inbetween, they go from bullish to bearish in the blink of an eye. Just what is it that sets them off? “It is, of course, common knowledge that we tend to manufacture rational explanations for conduct which springs largely from our unconscious urges,” Macfie explains. “Every politician, every elector, exemplifies this.”
Manufactured rational explanations or rationalization is constant in individual finance, according to Elliott Wave’s Robert Prechter. Individuals use reason to succeed in economic endeavours. However, in finance, individuals rationalize the decisions they have made that amount to simply herding with other investors. Rather than make their own valuations, investors depend upon others’ valuations. Rather than having knowledge about markets they remain ignorant. Rather than using objective value, investors value subjectively.
Bubbles and crashes are consistent with nonrational risk aversion, but not with rational assessments of risk. Still, people are hyper risk sensitive and often resort to bailout first and analyze later. “Thus, it is the instinct of each herd member to flee from danger that supplies the force behind the stampede,” writes Professor Macfie, even though that force maybe be a mere suggestion.
And while an individual will achieve prosperity acting in the economic sphere, that same person will chase booms and busts in finance. Why? According to Prechter, speaking at The 2013 Socionomics Summit in Atlanta, these decisions are made with two completely different parts of the brain. We use the rational part of our brain, the neocortex, to make economic decisions and maximize utility. However, investment decisions are made in the limbic system, that is driven by emotion, making us follow the herd.
Does any of this make sense from an evolutionary standpoint? Actually, yes, according to Prechter, “Prosperity keeps humans alive in the short run. Setbacks keep the species alive in the long run.”
The pummeling of gold was certainly a setback for those who are betting against the central bank controlled new world order. But one should realize that central bankers are no more than academic theoreticians lucky enough to get a government job. Their views of how the how the economy and markets work have no basis in reality.
Yes, the gold herd was spooked a few days ago. But the yellow metal has been around a lot longer than Ph.D. economists and will prove more durable in the end.