Book Review

     

 

 

Crony Capitalism vs. Free Markets

Many of our readers are probably aware of the excellent work our friend Jonathan Tepper does for Variant Perception (VP)*****, a financial research boutique that really does bring a unique perspective to the table*. Jonathan (with co-author Denise Hearn) has just added a new book to his résumé, which is going to be released on 12 November: The Myth of Capitalism (MoC) – Monopolies and the Death of Competition** (a link to the official site is at the end of this post).

 

Jonathan Tepper and Denise Hearn: The Myth of Capitalism, an excellent plea for more competition and free markets.

 

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Austrian School for Investors

 

[Ed note by PT: the English version of the book “Austrian School for Investors” by Rahim Taghizadegan, Ronald Stoeferle, Mark Valek & Heinz Blasnik has just become available at Amazon (a side note: do not hesitate to order it if you see that it is “temporarily unavailable”, as Amazon will very quickly reorder once new orders are received – apparently demand for new books first has to be gauged by an algorithm). Yours truly has made minor contributions to the English version, which regular readers of this blog may well recognize.

The book covers a wide range of topics, including an introduction to Austrian theory that is written in a way that is understandable for laymen, and yet should still hold the interest of those who are already au fait with Austrian theory as well – with a view toward practical application in investment. It addresses primarily individual investors, but what it doesn’t do is tell you things like “buy 20 calls FB 150 Dec. 2016” – in other words, it is not a tip sheet. In fact, its goal is rather to familiarize the reader with an “Austrian philosophy” of life and investing if you will. It does make for an excellent Christmas gift, if we may say so.

As no extensive critical reviews are available yet, we have decided to reprint John Hathaway’s preface to the book here]

 

AS for Investors-CoverThe cover of “Austrian School for Investors

 

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About the Author

Dimitri Speck is an expert on commodities markets who may actually be familiar to many of our readers as the creator of seasonal charts (which incidentally are the statistically most accurate seasonal charts available). Readers may also recall that we referred to Mr. Speck’s work in the past, when speculators were accused in the media of causing hunger in the third world, as their activities were alleged to artificially inflate the prices of agricultural commodities. When we wrote about the topic,  the voices of reason were few and far between. Mr. Speck’s unique and highly original contributions to the debate certainly took some of the wind out of the sails of the economically illiterate scaremongers in the media and politics.

 


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The Gold Cartel

The English language edition of Mr. Speck’s book “Geheime Goldpolitik”, has been published early this year under the title “The Gold Cartel”, in parallel with an updated second German edition. The book has received great praise from many quarters, and it is well-deserved (ironically, even from a central banker, in spite of the fact that central bankers come in for a lot of criticism in the book).

The first few pages of the book right away prove to the discerning reader that the author actually understands gold. Surprisingly, this can often not be taken for granted. A great many analysts continue to regard gold as akin to an industrial commodity, including many working for ‘expert’ organizations, whose main job it is to publish data and forecasts on the gold and silver markets.

Essentially one could ay that the Gold Cartel consists of three major parts, namely statistical studies, a historical disquisition and a theoretical part that deals with the consequences the adoption of a full-fledged fiat money system has wrought.

Note: This is an abridged and edited version of the review that appeared in issue 92, January/February 2014 of the Hedge Fund Journal.

 

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The Third-Biggest Living Contrary Indicator of All Time Speaks Up

There once was a time when it was fair to say that Alan Greenspan was the biggest living contrary indicator of all time. Long before he became known to a wider audience, in early January of 1973, he famously pronounced (paraphrasing) that 'there is no reason to be anything but bullish now'. The stock market topped out two days later and subsequently suffered what was then its biggest collapse since the 1929-1932 bear market. That was a first hint that stock market traders should pay heed to the mutterings of the later Fed chairman when they concerned market forecasts: whatever he says, make sure you do the exact opposite.

More proof was delivered in 1996, when Greenspan bemoaned the 'irrational exuberance' in the stock market, just as it embarked on one of its biggest rallies ever. Then in 2000, Geenspan finally agreed that a 'new era' had indeed arrived; that investors according billions in market capitalization to companies that would never make a dime were acting perfectly rationally, and that there was surely no end in sight to the productivity miracle. It was the biggest sell signal he had yet produced.

The reason why we feel he must be relegated to third place is that since then, arguably two even bigger living contrary indicators have entered the scene: Ben 'the sub-prime crisis is well contained' Bernanke, and Olli 'the euro crisis is over' Rehn. Admittedly it is not yet certain who will be judged the most reliable of them by history, but in any case, when Greenspan speaks, we should definitely still pay heed.

As CNBC reports:


“Although blue-chip stocks are hitting all-time high after all-time high, former Fed Chairman Alan Greenspan told CNBC Friday that "irrational exuberance" is the last term he'd use to describe today's market. Greenspan said in a "Squawk Box" interview that stocks by historical standards are "significantly undervalued" even considering the recent moves higher. He added that the payroll tax increase didn't dent spending because of rising asset prices.”

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Labor Market Reform Paper for France Released

Yesterday the long awaited Gallois report on labor market reform, commissioned by the French government, was released. It seems highly likely that it will join its more than 30 predecessors and henceforth begin to gather dust in some drawer in the bowels of France's bureaucracy. Mr. Gallois, a French industrialist, and currently the 'general commissioner for investment', not surprisingly proposes a major overhaul. Why does he do that? Because it is absolutely necessary. Why won't it be implemented? Because it goes against the socialist grain and president Hollande has already spoken out against 'shock therapies'.

As economist Elie Cohen remarks:


Some in the government are well aware of the fragility of our industry and are pushing for change," he said. "Others are obsessed by a growth model based on consumption, deficits and debt and cannot see how to get away from that.”

 

Among these 'others' the president himself can be found. It is well known that he equates deficit spending by the government with 'growth'. It is also widely held that France should consume itself to prosperity, in short the French administration is eager to follow the Keynesian advice of putting the cart before the horse.

 

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Book Review: The Golden Revolution

There are many books on the market today about the coming collapse of the global dollar-based monetary system.  Many of them purport to help the reader “profit” from the collapse(!)  Others are filled (just like the blogosphere from which they often come) with dark, conspiratorial whispers, psychologizing of leaders in government and finance, and preposterous ideas about how people actually think and act.  They often contain policy prescriptions that consist of doing more of what caused the problem in the first place: politicizing banking and trading with even more regulations, taxes, prohibitions, agencies, etc.

 

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