Notable Quotable

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“Ironically, the beggar-thy-neighbor implications of competitive devaluations will almost certainly incite a response from countries who may not originally even have needed to resort to currency debasement in the first place, raising the potential for full blown currency war. How should one position for such an endgame? As is probably evident, any nominal instrument will be devalued in real terms, so the solution is to hold an asset that maintains its real value – an asset that cannot be printed.”

Rick Rieder
BlackRock Funds

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Notable Quotable

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“Rome fell because the dictators ruined the Roman economy and the institutions that had made it prosperous. Rome was falling apart before the barbarian invasions. How did the Caesars do that? They were profligate spenders. As emperors with absolute power usually do, they thought big: infrastructure (roads, temples, palaces), a huge bureaucracy, and, as the key to maintaining their power they had a very large, loyal, and well-paid army. As a consequence, massive government spending far outstripped revenue. They had what today we call a deficit problem.”

Jeffrey Harding
Mises Institute

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Notable Quotable

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“I remember being told many years ago on a South African game reserve that the buffalo was the most dangerous of the big five game animals. In large part, this is because of the complacency shown towards them relative to the other, more obviously dangerous big five game animals (ie the lion, leopard, rhino and elephant). It’s also a fact that unlike the other big five, the buffalo gives no warning of an imminent charge (see link). It’s complacency that gets you killed, and the same goes for investors with the macro-risks. We all know what the big macro-imbalances are out there, caused by years of loose money, but investors continue to ignore them at their peril.”

Albert Edwards
Society Generale

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Notable Quotable

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“Why does the cycle move as it does? What causes these periodic alternations, this ebb and this flow, in the national priorities? If it is a genuine cycle, the explanation must be primarily internal. Each phase must flow out of the conditions – and contradictions – of the phase before and then itself prepare the way for the next recurrence. A true cycle is self-generating. It cannot be determined, short of catastrophe, by external events. Wars, depressions, inflations may heighten or complicate moods, but the cycle itself rolls on, self-contained, self-sufficient and autonomous. . .The roots of cyclical self sufficiency lies deep in the natural life of humanity. There is a cyclical pattern in organic nature — in the tides, in the seasons, in night and day, in the systole and diastole of the human heart.”

Arthur M. Schlesinger, Jr.
The Cycles of American History

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Notable Quotable

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“My studies of the 17 major financial crises since the founding of the Republic reveal that over-optimism is an important driver of the bubbles that eventually become busts. As the legendary investor, Sir John Templeton, once said, ‘The four most dangerous words in investing are ‘This time is different.’ Such was the mind-set that real estate prices could only rise (2008), dot-com companies would forever grow and be profitable (2001), or that the Russian government would never default (1998). “

Robert F. Bruner
The Hill

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Notable Quotable

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“A lot of economic, market and bank supervisory theory is based on the premise that financial actors are largely rational. The crisis convinced me that they are not. It was not rational for very experienced financial leaders to make their companies hostage to short-term financing that was, in the final analysis, secured by the irrational assumption that house prices will always go up. It was not rational for Dick Fuld to reject offers because their terms offended his pride. It was not rational for money market fund investors to flee all money market funds just because one fund made a bad bet. It was not rational for some lenders, at the height of the crisis, to stop accepting even Treasuries as collateral. The crisis convinced me that greed, ego, fear, short-sightedness, group-think and other human foibles have at least as much, if not more, to do with financial behaviour as rational thinking does.”

Mike Silva
Former chief of staff to New York Fed president Tim Geithner during the 2008 financial crisis
(Speech to the LBMA, October 2018)

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Notable Quotable

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“. . .[I]f you go down the line of currencies around the world, you don’t find many attractive opportunities. And that’s why I say if the world were to give up on dollars and give up on euros, they’d probably go back to the old standby, which is gold. And I don’t mean by gold, government run gold standard, like we had in the late 19th century. That’s politically impossible. Governments will never be willing to subordinate their policies to the constraints of a hard commodity ever again… So how could gold make a revival as a sort of international money? Well, we don’t actually need a government run gold standard anymore…since people have always had confidence in gold as a long-term store of value, there’s no reason why it couldn’t play that role.”

Benn Steil
Director of International Economics
Council on Foreign Relations

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Notable Quotable

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“We live in a technological golden age but in a monetary and fiscal dark age. While physicists discover the so-called God particle, governments print and borrow by the trillions. Science and technology may hurtle forward, but money and banking race backward.”

James Grant
Grant’s Interest Rate Observer

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Notable Quotable

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“The cities were still there, the houses not yet bombed and in ruins, but the victims were millions of people. They had lost their fortunes, their savings; they were dazed and inflation-shocked and did not understand how it had happened to them and who the foe was who had defeated them. Yet they had lost their self-assurance, their feeling that they themselves could be the masters of their own lives if only they worked hard enough; and lost, too, were the old values of morals, of ethics, of decency.”

Pearl S. Buck
Who was in Germany during the hyperinflation in 1923

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Notable Quotable

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“John Locke, the British philosopher whose ideas fuelled the American Revolution, had a theory of knowledge and perception, which I always found annoying. Asked if we have an idea of the substance behind our perceptions, he said we had ‘no such clear idea at all, and therefore signify nothing by the word substance but only an uncertain supposition of we know not what’. The philosophical debate has moved on in the centuries since Locke wrote. But his idea captures well the uneasy state of the world’s financial markets. They are driven in the short run by perceptions, not reality. If many have the wrong impression, markets will move on that. But in the long run, markets move on matters of substance. And at present the economic substance is a ‘something we know not what.'”

John Authers
Bloomberg

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Notable Quotable

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“A lot of people come to me asking how they can get rich quick…It’s the most disturbing question I get. Why? It’s the wrong question. It tells me that they don’t have the foundation of financial intelligence required to use their money well if they do – somehow – become wealthy. This is because most people don’t understand that, when it comes to being rich, it’s not about how much money you make. It’s about how much money you keep.”

Robert Kiyosaki
Daily Reckoning

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Notable Quotable

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“Cash over the long run is the worst-performing asset class and therefore the riskiest asset class. So where do you go? To me, going to any one asset increases risk. So the best way to deal with the challenging environment I foresee is by diversifying well. . . [G]old is just an alternative currency to fiat paper currencies. If your portfolio is likely to perform poorly in the adverse environment I’ve been describing – less effective monetary policy, the need to run larger fiscal deficits and monetize them, and challenging politics – the behavior of gold as alternative cash has some diversifying merit.”

Ray Dalio
Bridgewater Associates

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Notable Quotable

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“I’m no insect. Gold is a great way to make a lot of money.”

Thomas Kaplan
Electrum Group

October 2019

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Notable Quotable

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“Deflation is a threat posed by a critical breakdown of the financial system. Slow growth and recurrent recessions without systemic financial disturbances, even the big recessions of 1975 and 1982, have not posed such a risk.  The real danger comes from encouraging or inadvertently tolerating rising inflation and its close cousin of extreme speculation and risk taking, in effect standing by while bubbles and excesses threaten financial markets. Ironically, the ‘easy money,’ striving for a ‘little inflation’ as a means of forestalling deflation, could, in the end, be what brings it about.  That is the basic lesson for monetary policy. It demands emphasis on price stability and prudent oversight of the financial system. Both of those requirements inexorably lead to the responsibilities of a central bank.”

Paul Volcker
Keeping At It: The Quest for Sound Money and Good Government
(2018)

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Notable Quotable

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“If we observe the empires of the world that have existed over the millennia, we see a consistent history of collapse without renewal. Whether we’re looking at the Roman Empire, the Ottoman Empire, the Spanish Empire, or any other that’s existed at one time, history is remarkably consistent: The decline and fall of any empire never reverses itself; nor does the empire return, once it’s fallen.”

Jeff Thomas
International Man

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Notable Quotable

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“I don’t buy gold, I own it. I don’t buy gold at $1,100 because I think it’s going to go to $1,200. I buy it for what it does, not what the price is, the price is the last consideration for me. I think the way the picture has been developing over the last eight years, it’s like when you take a polaroid, you take a picture and you sit there and you watch this thing and it slowly comes into focus, and that’s what it’s been like for me watching gold, we’re watching this picture slowly develop. We’re getting to the point where people are going to be able to see the picture, and at that point gold is the answer. It’s not just an asset anymore. It’s the answer to a lot of people’s questions. . .The picture is becoming clearer, and everything the central banks are doing is bringing that day forward a little bit.”

Grant Williams
Vulpes Investment Management
June 2016

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Notable Quotable

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“Gold can be best viewed as financial insurance. If you believe that you should own insurance, then you should also own gold. In terms of investment performance, gold will do best during times of international financial stress. In the past, the price of gold has moved exponentially higher during these periods as demand for the ultimate safe haven goes viral.”

Eric Lytikainen
Real Investment Advice

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Notable Quotable

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“In a lot of cultures, the word for money derives from the word for gold. In China, the ideogram for money is the ideogram for gold.”

Peter Oakley
Royal College of Arts (UK)

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Notable Quotable

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“‘Experience keeps a dear school,’ said Ben Franklin, ‘but fools will learn in no other.’ The wise man remembers. The fool forgets. The wise man listens. The fool talks. He ignores both the living and the dead… the immemorial dead, whose whispers carry the distilled wisdom of history. No – this time is different, comes the fool’s eternal cry. The past is of no use to me.”

Brian Maher
Daily Reckoning

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Notable Quotable

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“The truth, yet unspoken from on high is that radical monetary policy begets more radical monetary policy.”

James Grant
Grant’s Interest Rate Observer

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