money

Responsible Investing

We are observing how one of the world’s most successful investors—the New Zealand Super Fund—manages its capital, and considering whether we might not mimic some of what the Fund has been doing. The idea is to improve our own returns both on an absolute basis and on a risk-adjusted basis. Here are two more strategies …

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The Worst of All Possible Worlds, Conclusion

“How do I loathe thee? Let me count the ways. I loathe thee to the depth and breadth and height My soul can reach… I loathe thee with the breath, Smiles, tears, of all my life; and, if God choose, I shall but loathe thee better after death.” —What Browning would say about Fedecbboj (central …

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Stop the Insanity!

“We recall not too long ago when extraordinary monetary policies were reserved for recessions or financial panics.” —Lead editorial, The Wall Street Journal Whenever I pull out the long knives for our friends at Fedecbboj (central bankers at the Fed, the ECB, and Bank of Japan), some of my gentle readers inevitably send me notes reading more or …

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The Worst of All Possible Worlds

“Tout est pour le mieux dans le meilleur des mondes possibles. [All is for the best in the best of all possible worlds.]” —Voltaire, “Candide” In the novella “Candide,” the cockeyed optimist Dr. Pangloss attempts to imbue his young mentee with Pangloss’s own incurable optimism. Candide does his best to remain hopeful, but as he travels …

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A Few Disastrous Examples of Government Overspending

“History is the most humbling of subjects.” —Wilfred M. McClay, Woodrow Wilson International Center As I’ve noted, the central thesis of Modern Monetary Theory is that a government that borrows in its own currency can never default because it can simply keep printing money to pay its debts. Hyperinflation, says MMT, can’t happen because as …

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A Closer Look at the “Panacea”

People whose political opinions put them well to the left of the center of American opinion will naturally find themselves sympathetic to many of the policy proposals put forth by the Democrat Presidential candidates. People well to the right of center will naturally be hostile to those policies. But almost everyone, including those in the …

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Modern Monetary Madness

When I think about MMT—Modern Monetary Theory—I visualize an odious miscreation squatting in its squalid swamp for decades, waiting only for an opportunity to erupt from the scum and devour the world’s economies. Okay, maybe I should be taking my meds… MMT’s main postulate, and it’s only raison d’être, is that a government that borrows …

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The Dear John Letter (to your Financial Advisor)

For many people, the worst part of the process of terminating an advisor happens at the very end, when you finally have to tell the guy the relationship is over. Think about that love affair that just wasn’t right. You knew that he/she was wrong for you, but actually breaking off the relationship filled you …

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Firing Your Financial Advisor, Part III

Now that we know why we’re going to fire our financial advisor, let’s talk about when to do it. Obviously, if any of the issues I detailed in my last post are operating, the time to fire your advisor is ASAP. But even if no hot-button issues have raised their ugly heads, that doesn’t necessarily mean that all is …

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Firing Your Financial Advisor, Part II

If you Google “Should I fire my financial advisor?” you will land on a lot of brain-dead articles. If any of the reasons listed in those articles apply to your financial advisor and you haven’t fired him, you’re probably hopeless. But in the interest of comprehensiveness, let’s take a quick look at reasons to fire your advisor right …

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Fed Folly and its Practical Effects

“The… task of economics is to demonstrate to men how little they really know about what they imagine they can design.” –Friedrich von Hayek Adam Smith was the first to name the “the invisible hand” so felicitously, but he was hardly the first to notice the existence of such a phenomenon. The idea of an …

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The Red-Tape Fed

The long and deep recession of 1930–33 finally ended in March of 1933. Once it ended, the Fed, believing that the economy could now—and should now—fend for itself, backed off. The result was one of the most powerful economic expansions in U.S. history, an expansion that lasted three decades. The short and shallow recession of …

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The Fed’s Act of Cowardice

We are talking about America’s Monetary Keystone Kops, who have, since 1987 (when Greenspan became chair of the Federal Reserve), been masquerading as central bankers. (Or maybe it’s the other way ‘round, it’s hard to tell.) The Fed’s finest hour was saving Bear Stearns while wiping out its equity holders and senior management—that is, the …

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Why Gold Had to Go

The “gold standard,” which prevailed in the developed world for many decades, simply means that some fraction of a country’s paper currency has to be backed by—that is, convertible into—gold. In the U.S. that fraction was 40 percent. Since a government on the gold standard can’t print money without increasing its gold reserves, society-destroying events …

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Central Bankers Then and Now, Part III

Scholars of the Great Depression typically blame policymakers of the 1930s for failing to do four things: They failed to rein in the 1920s economic boom, allowing its collapse to lead to the worst depression in US history. Following the Crash of ’29, they failed to inject sufficient liquidity into the economy, causing it to …

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Three Questions on the Markets, Part IV

Each year in our Summer issue, we ask a group of the region’s leading financial experts to help our readers by responding to a series of questions. The final question is, “What effect will higher inflation have on stock prices?” What effect will higher inflation have on stock prices? Thomas L. Wentling Jr., Wentling Tarquinio …

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Three Questions on the Markets, Part III

Each year in our Summer issue, we ask a group of the region’s leading financial experts to help our readers by responding to a series of questions. Below is part three of this four-part series with their answers to this question: Do you think the Trump Administration’s stimulus efforts—especially the tax cuts and regulatory reform—will …

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Inside a Swiss Bank

I just returned from one of those whirlwind speaking tours in Europe – three speeches in four days in Zurich, Budapest and Vienna. It was an eye-opener. Back here in the U.S. we are so focused on the shenanigans going on in Washington, D.C. that we forget that very similar turmoil is convulsing the body …

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Three Questions on the Markets

Each year in our Summer issue, we ask a group of the region’s leading financial experts to help our readers by responding to a question. This year, we’ve asked three. Part I of this four-part series begins below. Question 1: Why has market volatility spiked in 2018? Do you expect markets to remain volatile? LINDA …

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How Private Capital Made America the Greatest Society

Last week we discussed Fundamental Law of Private Capital #1—that private capital is the secret weapon that allows some economies to out-compete others. This week we’ll turn to Fundamental Laws #2 and #3. Fundamental Law #2: Private capital is the progenitor of all other kinds of capital. From the beginning of human civilization, virtually all …

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Three Fundamental Laws of Private Capital

A few years after “Capital in the Twenty-First Century” exploded on the scene, the University of Chicago surveyed 36 well-known economists, asking if they agreed with Piketty. The results? One yes and 35 no’s. How could a book so celebrated upon publication diminish into obscurity in a few short years? Presumably, it had something to do with …

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The Rich Will Lose Their Money Soon Enough

We are talking about Thomas Piketty’s “Capital in the Twenty-First Century,” including its extraordinary publishing history and its subsequent fade from grace. I reviewed the various problems with Pikkety’s theses as they have been noted in the economics literature, and I also proposed my own view of the book’s central problem: that its author is a naïf. …

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