Dec 24, 2017

Harvey Firestone on success

Success is the sum of details.

~ Harvey Firestone, tire entrepreneur

Dec 12, 2017

Jim Grant on gold vs. cryptocurrencies

I feel as if cryptocurrencies have stolen a bit of the thunder of our favorite alternative monetary asset. But the gold market will respond to the demonstrated failure of radical monetary policy. I have no idea when that collective perception might come that the central bankers are not fully clothed. But it will come, and a good portion of the world will come to the conclusion that gold represents a very good store of value outside the banking system and outside the electrical grid and outside the world of technology. These cryptocurrencies, on the other hand, propagate like rabbits: One day there are 900 cryptocurrencies, the next week there are 1200 and the week after that 1500. On the contrary, gold has been with us for millennia and the only way to get more is by a collision of two neutron stars or something like that. So alchemy may work in the cryptocurrencies but it’s not going to work in gold.

~ Jim Grant, "James Grant: Markets Trust Too Much in the Presence of  Central Banks," December 11, 2017, Finanz und Wirtschaft

Jim Grant on the Swiss franc

In the past, Switzerland had a certain franchise. It was a financial franchise based upon prudence, discretion and judgement in banking. It was based upon tradition and upon some kind of a stiff-necked independence from the rest of the world and the world’s central banks. I think those traditions and that franchise have been eviscerated to a great extend through pressure from the outside world and through the changing mores of worldwide regulation. So the Swiss franchise in judgment and discretion has now been rebranded to a franchise in secrecy which is all about the despots of Africa secreting billions of US dollars into Swiss bank accounts.

 That’s my opinion as an independent observer. I can describe the problem but, for the life of me, I don’t know what Switzerland should do to revert to its privileged place – a privilege well-earned in a world that has gone rather mad. The Swiss brand is still recognized worldwide. »Made in Switzerland» is one of the great phrases in the world of commerce. But I question the validity of the specific financial franchise and the desirability of the Swiss Franc. However, that’s my opinion. The world’s opinion is that the Franc is not the storm in a port but a port in a storm. That’s what the world thinks. So the Swiss must live with that and the way they do that is to depreciate the once sacrosanct Franc. They do it by creating Francs at no costs, convert them effortlessly into Euros, trade in those Euros into Dollars and then buy American equities at record high valuations.

~ Jim Grant, "James Grant: Markets Trust Too Much in the Presence of  Central Banks," December 11, 2017, Finanz und Wirtschaft

Dec 7, 2017

Ralph Charell on success

Nobody succeeds beyond their wildest expectations unless they begin with wild expectations.

 ~ Ralph Charell, author

Robert Allen on risk taking

Everything you want is just outside your comfort zone.

~ Robert Allen, author and speaker

Proverb on being late to the party

What the wise do in the beginning, fools do in the end.

~ proverb

Dec 5, 2017

Corrie ten Boom on worry

Worry does not empty tomorrow of its sorrow. It robs today of its strength, its courage and its joy.

~ Corrie ten Boom

Dec 3, 2017

Anthony Deden on confusing money printing with wealth creation

Frankly, we now have two generations of economic agents who are entirely ignorant about the nature of money. We welcome rising prices and see them as wealth even as they are merely the result of inflation. We demand more cash to save the system, instead of allowing those who fail to go bankrupt, so that more efficient competitors can emerge. We have tolerated the Swiss National Bank sale of our gold reserves in exchange for American paper money and promises.

We demand cheaper currency to stay competitive because we do not know the true nature of competitiveness. If cheaper currency is the source of wealth, where has Bangladesh gone wrong? If cheaper money means economic prosperity, why not just print as much as we can and give it out to everyone? We have become fools. The customers know nothing and the advisers know even less. And then we have the idiot economists—the neo-classical, Keynesian variety with solutions to problems they did not even anticipate; solutions that have, in fact, long been discredited. And so we lurch from crisis to crisis—eating our meager capital in the hopes of becoming rich in money. It’s a pity.

~ Anthony Deden, "Reflections on the Role of Gold in Investment Practice," November 19, 2009

Dec 2, 2017

Albert Einstein on the pursuit of truth

A man should look for what is, and not for what he thinks should be.

~ Albert Einstein

Nov 24, 2017

Ayn Rand on charity vs. achievement

We are taught to admire the second-hander who dispense gifts he has not produced above the man who made the gifts possible.  We praise an act of charity.  We shrug at an act of achievement.

~ Ayn Rand

Nov 22, 2017

Hans Hermann-Hoppe on fiat money

More paper money cannot make a society richer, of course — it is just more printed paper. Otherwise, why is it that there are still poor countries and poor people around? But more money makes its monopolistic producer (the central bank) and its earliest recipients (the government and big, government-connected banks and their major clients) richer at the expense of making the money's late and latest receivers poorer.

~ Hans Hermann-Hoppe

Nov 19, 2017

Jeremy Grantham on climate change

Carbon dioxide is going up at an increasing rate, with the three biggest increases occurring in the last three years; the climate is warming at an increasing rate; and the water is warming at an increasing rate; and therefore, the level at which oceans are rising is increasing at an accelerating rate. It’s one thing for the world to be deteriorating, but deteriorating at an increasingly fast rate is particularly dangerous and scary.

~ Jeremy Grantham, "Jeremy Grantham Combats Climate Change, Barron's, October 7, 2017

Nov 6, 2017

Kyle Bass on the long/short investment process

I love being long human ingenuity and short financial innovation.

~ Kyle Bass, video at 20:45 mark: "My investment lessons from the school of hard knocks," September 7, 2017

Nov 4, 2017

William Galston on avoiding poverty

You need only do three things in this country to avoid poverty - finish high school, marry before having a child, and marry after the age of 20. Only 8 percent of the families who do this are poor; 79 percent of those who fail to do this are poor.

~ William Galston

Warren Buffett on learning from experience

When people tell me they've learned from experience, I tell them the trick is to learn from other people's experience.

~ Warren Buffett

Oct 30, 2017

Kurt Vonnegut on insanity

A sane person to an insane society must appear insane.

~ Kurt Vonnegut

Oct 28, 2017

Ralph Waldo Emerson on kindness

You cannot do a kindness too soon, for you never know how soon it will be too late.

~ Ralph Waldo Emerson

Oct 18, 2017

Marc Faber on freedom of speech and press

If you have to live in a society where you cannot express your views and your views are immediately condemned without further analysis and analysis of the context in which [they’re written] — if you can’t live with that, then it is a sad state of where freedom of the press and freedom of expression have come.

~ Marc Faber, quoted in "Faber says U.S. wouldn’t have made as much ‘progress’ if colonized by blacks,", October 18, 2017

George Orwell on history

The most effective way to destroy people is to deny and obliterate their own understanding of their own history.

~ George Orwell

Kevin Duffy on alternative lifestyles

Society promotes values/lifestyle choices and marriage/family unit remains the most popular choice even though it's been losing ground to alternative lifestyles since probably the '60s. Marriage/family still clings to a slight lead, but its position is precarious.

Is this trend a good thing? Marriage/family hasn't always been the lifestyle of choice; it evolved and won out after tens of thousands of years of trial and error. There had to be a reason. Men, for example, are biologically wired to populate the planet, not necessarily live in monogamy. Would the human species stand a better chance of survival if we got rid of this quaint custom?

I'm all in favor of having the freedom to make choices. Ultimately good ideas win out and unsustainable lifestyle choices fail. It's just hard to know when.

~ Kevin Duffy

Oct 12, 2017

Jamie Dimon on the health of the global economy and U.S. consumer

The global economy continues to do well and the U.S. consumer remains healthy with solid wage growth.

~ Jamie Dimon, comments made after releasing JPMorgan Q3 earnings, October 12, 2017

Oct 9, 2017

David Hathaway on the social bubble

If natural interest rates prevailed and the state could not create money out of thin air, we wouldn’t have to go through these cycles.  There is a saying in the investment world, “Don’t confuse a bubble with brains.”  Every goofy business or social experiment seems to work during a boom time.  Everyone is a genius.  Let’s see, I will get a lot of tattoos, put decorative metal in my face, chug booze, and crash a motorcycle into a wall.  I will film myself doing these things and become an internet sensation.  The babes and paychecks will flow in like crazy.  It may work like that for a while; until the dam breaks and reality re-imposes itself.

~ David Hathaway, “Cultural Erosion and Violence,”, October 9, 2017

Jeff Deist on socialism... in theory and practice

Socialism is absurd in theory, but murderous in practice.

~ Jeff Deist, "From the publisher," The Austrian, September-October, 2017

Oct 3, 2017

Kevin Duffy on gun control

The 2nd amendment isn't about duck hunting. What happens if the country is invaded? Where is the second line of defense? Worse, what happens if the country turns into a dictatorship or police state? What defense would we have from our own government?

Gun control will not keep guns out of the hands of criminals. It will keep guns away from the good guys, making us more vulnerable to armed criminals.

~ Kevin Duffy, October 2, 2017, in response to calls for gun control following the mass shootings in Las Vegas

Sep 29, 2017

Josh Brown dismisses CBNC survey where 87% of strategists expect higher stock prices in Q4

It's too easy just to fade optimism all the time.

~ Josh Brown, CNBC's Fast Money, September 29, 2017

(In response to CNBC poll of Wall Street strategists in which 87% expect higher stock prices in Q4.  Brown dismissed a contrarian interpretation of this one-sided view as a "knee-jerk reaction.")

Kevin Duffy on capitalism vs. socialism

capitalism: serving others while serving yourself
socialism: stealing from others while serving yourself, justified by "serving the common good"

capitalism: motivated by improving your lot in life (ambition)
socialism: motivated by bringing others down (envy)

~ Kevin Duffy

Sep 26, 2017

Ray Dalio on confirmation bias

I think most people, too often, they start with an opinion.  There are psychological tests that show that people start with an opinion and filter information that comes to them to be consistent with their opinion.

~ Ray Dalio, founder of Bridgewater Associates ($160 bil hedge fund), interview with Tim Ferris, September 13, 2017

Sep 25, 2017

Woody Allen: "mankind faces a crossroads"

More than any other time in history, mankind faces a crossroads. One path leads to despair and utter hopelessness. The other, to total extinction. Let us pray we have the wisdom to choose correctly.

~ Woody Allen

Sep 24, 2017

Mario Draghi: "We don't see systemic danger coming from bubbles." (2017)

We don't see systemic danger coming from bubbles.  If you look at the various markets - the stock market, the bond market - the prime commercial real estate is the only area where you actually see stretched valuations... We don't see the other component of a bubble which accompanied the crisis in the pre-crisis time, namely an increase in leverage.  We see that credit remains pretty subdued all across the board.

~ Mario Draghi, ECB press conference, September 7, 2017

Jim Grant on the great interest rate suppression experiment

An interest rate is a price.  Prices convey information.  Distorted prices convey misinformation.  Build a new factory?  Reckon the value of a future cash flow?  Deduce financial risk from a credit spread?  Manipulated rates give you the data you need to arrive at the wrong conclusion.

Like the flu, mispricing is communicable.  Like a sneeze, arbitrage transmits the disorder from one place, and one asset class, to the next.  Pygmy interest rates lead to tiny real-estate cap rates and towering equity P/E multiples.

~ Jim Grant, "Meet the Carrefour S.A. senior unsecured 1 3/4s of 2022," Grant's Interest Rate Observer, September 22, 2017

Sep 23, 2017

Christopher Ailman on the limits of diversification this cycle

For the past 30 to 40 years, the common wisdom has been that diversification reduces risk, and the main diversifying asset has been fixed income. With interest rates in the U.S. at 200-year lows and negative interest rates elsewhere in the world, you can’t say fixed income is a diversifier.

~ Christopher Ailman, chief investment officer of CalSTRS, "The Trendsetter: Christopher Ailman of CalSTRS," Barron's, September 23, 2017

Sep 22, 2017

Zachary Karabell thinks it is time to add risk

Risk. Mention the word, and many investment professionals pause. Traders, hedge funds, and a few quantitative firms and their algorithms may love risk. But these days, the preponderance of investors, advisors, strategists, and their clients—not to mention the individual investor—see risk as a negative to be avoided. And that is why, dear readers, it may be time to consider adding some to clients’ portfolios.


Given investors’ paltry appetite for anything that has a whiff of risk, and given how crowded the “safety” trade remains, it is an opportune time to consider investments that, relative to one’s current allocation, appear riskier.

~ "Investors Can Afford to Take on More Risk," Zachary Karabell, Barron', September 18, 2017

Warren Buffett: "Being short America has been a loser's game."

It has been 241 years since Thomas Jefferson wrote the Declaration of Independence. Being short America has been a loser's game. I predict to you it will continue to be a loser's game.

~ Warren Buffett, "Warren Buffett predicts Dow will hit 1 million and that may actually be pessimistic," CNBC, September 21, 2017

Sep 21, 2017

Ron Paul on Alexander Hamilton

Hamilton is the architect of big government in America.

~ Ron Paul, from the forward to How Alexander Hamilton Screwed Up America, by Brion McClanahan

Henry Hazlitt on why economics is prone to fallacies

Economics is haunted by more fallacies than any other study known to man. This is no accident. The inherent difficulties of the subject would be great enough in any case, but they are multiplied a thousandfold by a factor that is insignificant in, say, physics, mathematics or medicine — the special pleading of selfish interests.

 ~ Henry Hazlitt, Economics In One Lesson (1946)

Sep 9, 2017

Casey Stengel on preparation

The best time to think about losing is when you’re winning.

~ Casey Stengel

Aug 30, 2017

Henry Ford on aging and learning

Anyone who stops learning is old, whether at twenty or eighty.  Anyone who keeps learning stays young.  The greatest thing in life is to keep your mind young.

~ Henry Ford

Benito Mussolini on the difference between classical liberalism and fascism

The fascist conception of life stresses the importance of the State and accepts the individual only in so far as his interests coincide with the State . . . . It is opposed to classical liberalism . . . [which] denied the State in the name of the individual. If the XIXth century was the century of the individual (liberalism implies individualism), we are free to believe that this is the ‘collective’ century, and therefore the century of the State.  If classical liberalism spells individualism, Fascism spells government.

~ Benito Mussolini, Fascism: Doctrine and Institutions 

(As quoted by Tom DiLorenzo in "An Open Letter to This Year's College Freshmen Class on the Subject of Fascism," August 28, 2017

Aug 23, 2017

Jeffrey Tucker on the rise of protests since 2008

Remember that the protests we see are only the visible ones. Underneath them, there is a seething in the very foundations of society among all classes, races, and political outlooks. For every protester in front of the camera, there are hundreds of thousands of sympathizers, which is what happens in a country where government impositions have stopped household incomes from rising in real terms for 20 years. (And this reality has struck us during a time of explosive technological improvements that would have otherwise conferred massive material benefits on society!)

~ Jeffrey Tucker, "The Same Revolt: Tea Party, Occupy, Black Lives Matter," Foundation For Economic Education, December 11, 2014

Aug 21, 2017

Alexis de Tocqueville on how slavery was already dying an economic death in the 1830s

A century had already passed since the founding of the colonies and an extraordinary fact began to strike the attention of everyone.  The population of those provinces which had virtually no slaves increased in numbers, wealth, and prosperity more rapidly than those which did have them.

In the former, however, then inhabitants were forced to cultivate the ground themselves or to hire someone else to do it; in the latter, they had laborers at their disposal whom they did not need to pay.  With labor and expense on one side and leisure and savings on the other, nevertheless the advantage lay with the former.

This outcome seemed all the more difficult to explain since the immigrants all belonged to the same European race with the same habits, the same civilization, the same laws, and there were only barely perceptible shades of differences between them.

As time went on, the Anglo-Americans left the shores of the Atlantic Ocean to plunge day by day ever further into abandoned spaces of the West, where they encountered new land and climates and had to overcome various obstacles.  Races mingled; men from the South moved North; men from the North moved South.  Amid all these circumstances, the same fact repeated itself at every step and, in general, the colony without slaves became more populous and prosperous than the one in which slavery flourished.

As further advances were made, people began, therefore to perceive that slavery, as cruel as it was for the slave, was fatal to the master.

But the truth of this provided its final proof when civilization reached the banks of the Ohio.

The stream named by the Indians as the Ohio, or the Beautiful River, irrigates one of the most magnificent valleys in which man has ever made his home.  On both banks of the Ohio stretches undulating land whose soil lavishes upon the plowman inexhaustible riches.  On both banks, the air is equally healthy and the climate temperate; each bank forms the frontier of a vast state: the one to the left tracing the many windings of the Ohio is called Kentucky, the other takes its name from the river itself.  The two states differ in only one respect: Kentucky has accepted slaves but Ohio has rejected them from its lands.

The traveler who, positioned at the center of the Ohio River, drifts downstream to its junction with the Mississippi is, therefore, steering a path between freedom and slavery, so to speak, and he only has to look about him to judge immediately which is the more beneficial for mankind.

On the left bank of the river the population is sparse; occasionally a troop of slaves can be seen loitering in half-deserted fields; the primeval forest grows back again everywhere; society seems to be asleep; man looks idle while nature looks active and alive.

On the right bank, by contrast, a confused hum announces from a long way off the presence of industrial activity; the fields are covered by abundant harvests; elegant dwellings proclaim the taste and industry of the workers; in every direction there is evidence of comfort; men appear wealthy and content: they are at work.

The state of Kentucky was founded in 1775, Ohio just twelve years later: twelve years in America is more than half a century in Europe.  Today the population of Ohio is already more than 250,000 greater than that of Kentucky.

The contrasting effects of slavery and freedom are easily understood and are enough to explain many of the differences between ancient and contemporary civilization.

On the left bank of the Ohio, work is connected with the idea of slavery, on the right bank with the idea of prosperity and progress; on the one side, it is a source of humiliation, on the other, of honor; on the left bank of the river no white laborers are to be found as they would dread to like like slaves; they have to look to Negroes for such work.  On the right bank it would be a waste of time to look for an idle man, as the whites extend their energy and intelligence to every sort of work.

Thus, the men in Kentucky who are responsible for exploiting the natural abundance of the soil lack both enthusiasm and knowledge, whereas those who might possess these qualities either do nothing or cross over into Ohio in order to be able to profit by their efforts and do so without dishonor.


On both banks of the Ohio, nature has endowed man with an enterprising and energetic character but on each side of the riven men use this shared quality in different ways.

The white man on the right bank, being forced to live by his own efforts, has made material prosperity his life's main aim.  Since he lives in a country offering inexhaustible resources to his hard work and continuous inducements to his activity, his enthusiasm for possessing things has passed the normal bounds of human greed.  Driven on by his longing for wealth, he boldly embarks upon all the paths which fortune opens before him.  He does not mind whether he becomes a sailor, a pioneer, a factory worker, a farmer, enduring with an even constancy the labors or dangers associated with these various professions.  There is something wonderful in the ingenuity of his talent and a kind of heroism in his desire for profit.

The American on the left bank not only looks down upon work but also upon those undertakings which succeed through work.  Living in a relaxed indleness, he has the tastes of idle men; money has lost a part of its value in his eyes; he is less interested in wealth than excitement and pleasure and he deploys in this direction all the energy his neighbor devotes to other things; he is passionately fond of hunting and war; he enjoys the most vigorous of physical exercise; he is well versed in the use of weapons and from childhood he has learned to risk his life in single combat.  Slavery, therefore, not merely prevents the whites from making money but even diverts them from any desire to do so.

The same reasons which have for two centuries worked in opposition to each other in the English colonies of the northern part of America have in the end created an amazing difference between the commercial capabilities of men from the South and those from the North.  Today, only the North has ships, factories, railroads, and canals.


Gradually, as the truth of this became evident in the United States, slavery retreated little by little in the face of the knowledge gained by experience.

Slavery had begun in the South and had then spread toward the North; at the present time, it is receding.  Freedom, starting from the North, is moving without interruption toward the South.

~ Alexis de Tocqueville, Democracy in America (1840), pp. 404-409

Alexis de Tocqueville on who goes into politics

In the United States, men of moderate desires commit themselves to the twists and turns of politics.  Men of great talent and passion in general avoid power to pursue wealth; it often comes about that only those who feel inadequate in the conduct of their own business undertake to direct the fortunes of the state.

These reasons, quite as much as any poor decisions of democracy, have to account for the great number of coarse men holding public office.  I do not know whether the people of the United States would choose men of superior qualities who might canvass their votes but it is certain that such men do not bid for office.

~ Alexis de Tocqueville, Democracy in America, p. 238

Aug 19, 2017

Stefan Molyneux defends free speech

If peoples' ideas are so bad, so wrong, so egregious, let them speak! Don't pull a Blues Brothers and drive them off a bridge. You let them speak so that everyone can hear how bad the ideas are. And if their ideas are so bad, you should be able to rebut them and dismantle them very easily.


Make an argument, or unmake civilization itself.

~ Stefan Molyneux, "CHARLOTTESVILLE" video, August 14, 2017

Aug 15, 2017

David Tepper: "You're nowhere near an overheated market" (2017)

Any comparisons to past overheated markets are ridiculous. Look at where multiples and rates were in 1999. I'm not saying stocks are screaming cheap, but you're nowhere near an overheated market.

~ David Tepper, telephone interview with Scott Wapner, CNBC's Fast Money, August 15, 2017

Steve Weiss: Stocks of Facebook and Alibaba are "extraordinarily inexpensive" (2017)

As you go out and you look at a Facebook or you look at an Alibaba, and you look at their growth rates and you look 2, 3 years, they're extraordinarily inexpensive.

~ Steve Weiss, CNBC's Fast Money, August 15, 2017

(Facebook closed at 171.00; Alibaba closed at 157.82.)

Aug 4, 2017

George Burns on memory and aging

First you forget names, than you forget faces.  Next you forget to pull your zipper up and finally, you forget to pull it down.

~ George Burns

Mark Twain on aging

Age is an issue of mind over matter.  If you don't mind, it doesn't matter.

~ Mark Twain

George Eliot on aging

The years between 50 and 70 are the hardest.  You are always being asked to do things, and yet you are not decrepit enough to turn them down.

~ George Eliot

Muhammad Ali on aging

A man who views the world the same at 50 as he did at 20 has wasted 30 years of his life.

~ Muhammad Ali

Jul 30, 2017

Pierre Corneille on winning

To win without risk is a triumph without glory.

~ Pierre Corneille, French playwrite

Jul 24, 2017

Gustave de Molinari on property

Private property is redundant.  Public property is an oxymoron.  All legit property is private.  If property isn't private it's stolen.

~ Gustave de Molinari

Jul 3, 2017

Alan Meltzer on capitalism and failure

Capitalism without failure is like religion without sin.

~ Alan Meltzer, economist

(Meltzer died May 8, 2017 at age 89.)

David Rockefeller on American capitalism

American capitalism has brought more benefits to more people than any other system in any part of the world at any time in history.

~ David Rockefeller

Jul 2, 2017

Doug MacKay: "tech will be best performing sector next 5, 10, 15 years" (2000)

In tough times, it's often more what you don't own than what you own that is important.  We don't have a lot of dot-com stocks.  Instead, we have focused on Internet infrastructure, and that has helped us outperform.

(IBD: MacKay thinks the worst might be over.  He says the correction was probably caused by the Federal Reserve Chairman Alan Greenspan raising interest rates, even though earnings have remained strong in the  tech sector.)

It looks like he's on hold for a while, and earnings will again come to the forefront.

Technology is going to be the best performing sector for the next five, 10 or 15 years.

~ Douglas MacKay, portfolio manager, Red Oak Technology Select Fund, Investors' Business Daily, July 7, 2000

(Red Oak Technology Select was up 45.69% in first half of 2000, placing it #1 on Morningstar's list of tech funds.  Over the past year it was up 183.68%.  Holdings include Brocade Communications, PMC Sierra, Juniper Networks, and Newport.)

Michael Jordan on failure

Failure always made me try harder the next time.  That's why my advice has always been to "think positive" and find fuel in any failure.

~ Michael Jordan

Anonymous on flexibility

Blessed are the flexible, for they shall not be bent out of shape.

~ Anonymous

Samuel Butler on creativity

To do great work a man must be very idle as well as very industrious.

~ Samuel Butler, writer

Matthew on forgiveness

If ye forgive men their trespasses, your heavenly Father will also forgive you: But if ye forgive not men their trespasses, neither will your Father forgive your trespasses.

~ Matthew 6:14-15

Mark Twain on praise

I can live for two months on a good compliment.

~ Mark Twain

Jul 1, 2017

Raife Giovinazzo on separating emotion from investing

In investing you have to deny your emotions, like Odysseus sailing by the sirens in Greek mythology. Put wax in your ears or tie yourself to the mast - otherwise, you're going to drown along the cliffs.

~ Raife Giovinazzo, research director, Fuller & Thaler Asset Management, "Beware of Happy Memories," Fortune, March 1, 2017

Jun 30, 2017

Zachary Slayback on the difference between education and schooling

Schooling is a process.  Schooling is something that is set up, and not all schooling is necessarily bad.  But schooling that is forced on people is usually bad, and it is a process that people go through.  Education is substance.  Education is something you engage in in order to learn things, in order to adapt, in order to change.  It's something that doesn't have a beginning or an end.


Education is something that is highly individually driven.  It has certain ends.  I think that the end and the purpose of education is to equip people to identify what meaning is in their life and to try to achieve that meaning from their life.  School on the other hand is usually meant to just impress bureaucrats.

~ Zachary Slayback, co-founder of Praxis, Tom Woods Show podcast, "The End of School: Reclaiming Education from the Classroom," March 22, 2016

Jun 28, 2017

Nassim Taleb and Mary Blythe on suppressing volatility

Complex systems that have artificially suppressed volatility tend to become extremely fragile, while at the same time exhibiting no visible risks.

~ Nassim Taleb and Mary Blythe

Jun 26, 2017

Lao Tzu on leadership

A leader is best when people barely know that he exists; not so good when people obey and acclaim him; worst when they despise him.

~ Lao Tzu

Jun 24, 2017

Brooke Lorimer on empathy and kindness

Everyone you meet is fighting a battle you know nothing about.  Be kind.  Always.

~ Brooke Lorimer, Guideposts reader, Boulder, Co

Tony Robbins on change

If you do what you've always done, you'll get what you've always gotten.

~ Tony Robbins, motivational speaker

Jun 23, 2017

Steve Ballmer on the importance of good ideas

A great team, great energy, and great hard work will never make up for a bad idea.

~ Steve Ballmer, 2014 commencement speech, USC's Marshall School of Business

Peyton Manning on the value of experts

When you are chided for your naivete - and you will be - remind your critics that an amateur built the ark and experts built the Titanic.

~ Peyton Manning, 2014 commencement speech, University of Virginia

Tony Dwyer thinks "fear dominates market activity" (2000)

The history of the market has shown us that, when fear dominates market activity, it's an opportunity to buy stocks at a better price.

~ Anthony Dwyer, chief market strategist, Kirlin Holdings, as quoted in The Wall Street Journal, February 3, 2000

Jun 20, 2017

B.C. Forbes on complexity

The man of fixed ingrained principles who has mapped out a straight course, and has the courage and self-control to adhere to it, does not find life complex.  Complexities are all of our own making.

~ B.C. Forbes, publisher

Voltaire on appreciation

Appreciation is a wonderful thing; it makes what is excellent in others belong to us as well.

~ Voltaire, satirist

Leo Buscaglia on talent

Your talent is God's gift to you.  What you do with it is your gift back to God.

~ Leo Buscaglia, writer, lecturer

Aristotle on good habits

We are what we repeatedly do.  Excellence, therefore, is not an act but a habit.

~ Aristotle, philosopher

Atlanta Fed president: U.S. economy "envy of the world" (2001)

In the long term, the moderation of growth that we'll witness in 2001 will be a mostly healthy thing.  It will help the economy avoid some serious imbalances that might otherwise have begun to accumulate, and it will help ensure that growth remains sustainable.

~ Jack Guynn, Atlanta Federal Reserve President, "U.S. slowdown dubbed 'healthy'," Investors Business Daily, January 9, 2001

(Guynn called the U.S. economy "the envy of the world.")

Nolan Bushnell on taking action

Everyone who's ever taken a shower has an idea.  It's the person who gets out of the shower, dries off and does something about it who makes a difference.

~ Nolan Bushnell, executive

Publilius Syrus on learning from mistakes

He is foolish to blame the sea who is shipwrecked twice.

~ Publilius Syrus, writer

Thomas Edison on persistence

The first requisite of success is the ability to apply your physical and mental energies to one problem without growing weary.

~ Thomas Edison, inventor

Michael Goodwin on how 2016 election exposed bias of mainstream media

I’ve been a journalist for a long time. Long enough to know that it wasn’t always like this. There was a time not so long ago when journalists were trusted and admired. We were generally seen as trying to report the news in a fair and straightforward manner. Today, all that has changed. For that, we can blame the 2016 election or, more accurately, how some news organizations chose to cover it. Among the many firsts, last year’s election gave us the gobsmacking revelation that most of the mainstream media puts both thumbs on the scale—that most of what you read, watch, and listen to is distorted by intentional bias and hostility. I have never seen anything like it. Not even close.

~ Michael Goodwin, chief political columnist, The New York Post, "The 2016 Election and the Demise of Journalistic Standards," Imprimis, May/June 2017

Jun 14, 2017

Time's Daniel Kadlec on the tech bubble and related anti-bubbles

A massive liquidation of nontech assets is under way as people reach for the means to buy more Cisco, 3com and Apple. It's an incredible display of pack investing that begs the question, Is NASDAQ bulletproof?


The reallocation is not just in assets but also in talent.  Bankers, lawyers and money managers are fleeing careers in depressed pockets of the market like real estate to hitch a ride to Silicon Valley.

The shift is clearest, though, in hard numbers.  In January, investors poured a record $40 billion into stock funds, and $29 billion of it went into aggressive growth and growth funds - the ones that own NASDAQ stocks.  The rest went into sector funds, which are 75% invested in tech.  Equity-income funds and growth and income funds (which favor blue chips) had outflows.  Bond funds also had outflows - a hefty $10 billion worth.

By one measure, the NASDAQ accounts for every penny made in the stock market the past 12 months.  In that span, the market value of all U.S. stocks increased $2.5 trillion, but NASDAQ stocks alone rose $3.1 trillion.  That means non-NASDAQ stocks fell $600 billion.  Foreigners are equally gaga.  Last year they were net sellers of Treasury bonds for the first time, and they bought a record $107 billion of U.S. stocks.  Care to guess which ones?

~ Daniel Kadlec, "What Blue Chips?  The NASDAQ is killing the Dow, which is why it's more critical than ever that you stay diversified," Time, March 13, 2000

Portfolio manager sees valuations as reasonable (2000)

We think there is some sustainability here given valuations and expected growth.  We have positioned our customers with that in mind.

~ Paul Cox, portfolio manager, Commerce Fund in St. Louis, MO, as quoted in The Wall Street Journal, September 29, 2000

Steve Forbes advocates aggressive easing after tech bubble unwind (2001)

With glacial speed, Alan Greenspan is coming around to the view that a faltering economy, not incipient inflation, is the most immediate threat. But instead of moving speedily, the Federal Reserve will soon begin a series of baby-step reductions in interest rates. This sluggish, woolly-mammoth-like response is a danger.

Longer term, though, there is another potential hazard. The Fed could fall into the trap in which the Bank of Japan finds itself: Interest rates are cut and cut and cut, yet the economy doesn’t recover. The U.S. experienced such a phenomenon in the 1930s, when Treasury bill rates were almost 0% and unemployment remained in double digits until the Second World War. Pushing on a shoestring, it was called.

~ Steve Forbes, "Going the Way of Japan?," Forbes, January 22, 2001

Jun 13, 2017

Ken Fisher: tech bubble still in the middle of bursting (2001)

People keep asking if the technology drubbing is over - or will be soon.  As long as folks keep asking, you don't have to.  It isn't over until they stop asking.  The end is silent.  Make no mistake, this is the middle of the bursting of a classic sector bubble.

~ Ken Fisher, "Tech 2001," Forbes, January 22, 2001

Federated Investors CIO advises buying tech dip (2000)

With tech valuations having reached more reasonable levels, this could be an excellent time to rotate back into technology.

~ J. Thomas Madden, chief investment officer, Federated Investors, as quote in The Wall Street Journal, September 20, 2000

Ronald Reagan on attitude

A pessimist is someone who complains about the noise when opportunity knocks.

~ President Ronald Reagan

Vince Lombardi on excellence

The quality of a person's life is in direct proportion to his commitment to excellence.

~ Vince Lombardi, football coach

Christina Baldwin on forgiveness

Forgiveness is the act of admitting we are like other people.

~ Christina Baldwin, writer

Ronald Reagan on attitude

Optimism is a choice, and one of the most powerful we can make.

~ President Ronald Reagan

Johann Wolfgang von Goethe on potential

If I accept you as you are, I will make you worse; however, if I treat you as though you are what you are capable of becoming, I help you become that.

~ Johann Wolfgang von Goethe, poet

Murray Rothbard on the nature of the State

The State, in the words of Oppenheimer, is the “organization of the political means”; it is the systematization of the predatory process over a given territory.  For crime, at best, is sporadic and uncertain; the parasitism is ephemeral, and the coercive, parasitic lifeline may be cut off at any time by the resistance of the victims.  The State provides a legal, orderly, systematic channel for the predation of private property; it renders certain, secure, and relatively “peaceful” the lifeline of the parasitic caste in society.  Since production must always precede predation, the free market is anterior to the State.  The State has never been created by a “social contract”; it has always been born in conquest and exploitation.  The classic paradigm was a conquering tribe pausing in its time-honored method of looting and murdering a conquered tribe, to realize that the time-span of plunder would be longer and more secure, and the situation more pleasant, if the conquered tribe were allowed to live and produce, with the conquerors settling among them as rulers exacting a steady annual tribute.

~ Murray Rothbard, The Anatomy of the State (1974)

Michael Corleone on politics and crime

Politics and crime, they're the same thing.

~ Michael Corleone in The Godfather Part III

Abby Joseph Cohen: "The intermediate and longer-term view remains bright" (2000)

The intermediate and longer-term view remains bright.

~ Abby Joseph Cohen, as quoted in The Wall Street Journal, September 22, 2000

(WSJ: Stocks did benefit from another round of bullish comments from Goldman Sachs investment strategist Abby Joseph Cohen.  She published a report saying oil, the euro and 3rd quarter corporate profits will prove to be "short-lived" worries.)

Abby Joseph Cohen remains bullish after stocks bounce from March-May 2000 selloff

We had gotten to notably low levels of valuation.  [Now,] we're back in the range of where we should be.

~ Abby Joseph Cohen, as quoted in The Wall Street Journal, June 5, 2000

PaineWebber strategist justifies high tech stock valuations

A very fast growth rate is worth a very high price-earnings multiple.  In a low inflation environment, [a stock growing at 15% a year] is worth a P/E of 65.  And a 20% growth stock is worth a P/E of 106.

~ Edward Kerschner, investment strategist, PaineWebber, as quoted in The Wall Street Journal, June 2, 2000

(Kershner was defending the high valuations of large cap tech stocks like Cisco Systems, America Online, Hewlett-Packard and Microsoft at the top of the 2000 tech bubble.)

Theodore Roosevelt on the key to success

The most important single ingredient in the formula of success is knowing how to get along with people.

~ President Theodore Roosevelt

Peter Drucker on logic and production

Production is not the application of tools to materials, but logic to work.

~ Peter Drucker, business writer

Malcolm Forbes on self esteem

Too many people overvalue what they are not, and undervalue what they are.

~ Malcolm Forbes, publisher

Napoleon Hill on persistence

Effort only fully releases to reward after a person refuses to quit.

~ Napoleon Hill, writer and teacher

Donald Trump on focus

I try to learn from the past, but I plan for the future by focusing exclusively on the present.  That's where the fun is.

~ Donald Trump, businessman

Mark Twain on innovation

You can't depend on your eyes when your imagination is out of focus.

~ Mark Twain, novelist, journalist

Benjamin Franklin on learning from adversity

Those things that hurt, instruct.

~ Benjamin Franklin

Bishop George Berkeley on honesty

Truth is the cry of all, but the game of few.

~ Bishop George Berkeley, philosopher

Robert Half on excuses

The longer the excuse, the less likely it's the truth.

~ Robert Half, employment coach

Thomas Wentworth Higginson on teamwork

Great men are rarely isolated mountain peaks; they are the summits of ranges.

~ Thomas Wentworth Higginson, minister, Army officer, lecturer

Winston Churchill on brevity

This report, by its very length, defends itself against the risk of being read.

~ Winston Churchill, British prime minister

Benjamin Franklin on humility

To be humble to superiors is a duty; to equals, courtesy; to inferiors, nobleness.

~ Benjamin Franklin

Benjamin Franklin on learning

An investment in knowledge always pays the best interest.

~ Benjamin Franklin, statesman, inventor, printer

Albert Einstein on innovation

If at first the idea is not absurd, then there is no hope for it.

~ Albert Einstein

Albert Einstein on discipline

The secret of discipline is motivation.  When a man is sufficiently motivated, discipline will take care of itself.

~ Albert Einstein

John Rollwagen on competitive advantage

The secret of business, especially these days, is to focus relentlessly on your unfair advantage - the thing you do that others don't.

~ John Rollwagen, former CEO, Cray Research

Ken Rosenthal on personal growth

Each time you decide to grow again, you realize you're starting at the bottom of another ladder.

~ Ken Rosenthal, entrepreneur

Ralph Waldo Emerson on conformity

A man must consider what a rich realm he abdicates when he becomes a conformist.

~ Ralph Waldo Emerson, essayist

George Washington Carver on excuses

Ninety-nine percent of the failures come from people who have the habit of making excuses.

~ George Washington Carver, botanist and chemist

Jun 9, 2017

Ed Yardeni dismisses any concerns of recession

If you don't have a boom, you don't get a bust.

~ Ed Yardeni, as appeared on CNBC's Fast Money, June 9, 2017

(Yardeni explained why slow economic growth is bullish for stocks.)

Jun 7, 2017

Leonardo da Vinci on vision

There are three classes of people: those who see, those who see when they are shown, those who do not see.

~ Leonardo da Vinci

None of 89 economists surveyed expect recession by 2019

Of 89 economists surveyed by Bloomberg, not a single one currently expects a GDP contraction in 2017, 2018 or 2019. The median expected growth rate in these years ranges from 2.2 to 2.4 percent.

~ "2017 In Gold We Trust" report, Incrementum AG, p. 28

Jun 5, 2017

Louise Nevelson on aging and creativity

I never feel age...  If you have creative work, you don't have age or time.

~ Louise Nevelson, sculptor

Mike Tyson on best laid plans

Everybody has a plan until they get hit. Then, like a rat, they stop in fear and freeze.


If you’re good and your plan is working, somewhere during the duration of that, the outcome of that event you're involved in, you're going to get the wrath, the bad end of the stick. Let's see how you deal with it. Normally people don’t deal with it that well.

~ Mike Tyson, boxer

May 29, 2017

John Browne on U.S. history of socialized medicine

Contrary to the current rhetoric, Obamacare was not in fact America’s first foray into socialized medicine, and it did not represent the kind of crossed Rubicon that Republicans like to accuse it of being. The door had first been opened in the Second World War, when government imposed wage controls that gave incentives to employers to bundle health insurance into compensation packages. When the government then made employer-provided insurance tax-deductible, such plans became the norm. But the government really charged into the market in 1965, with the creation of Medicare and Medicaid. For years, Republicans have twisted themselves into logic pretzels in order to argue that Obamacare is socialism while Medicare is not.

In granting a new entitlement, Obamacare did nothing to address problems that have plagued the U.S. health-care system. It did not encourage competition among insurers, it demanded a “one size fits all” approach to coverage, and, most egregiously, did nothing to contain the rising medical costs that threaten to bankrupt the U.S. To add insult to injury, it required people to buy insurance they didn’t want.

~ John Browne, Euro Pacific Capital, "What We've Learned From Trying Out Socialized Medicine," March 30, 2017

Ulysses S. Grant on the Civil War and slavery

If I thought this war was to abolish slavery, I would resign my commission and offer my sword to the other side.

~ Ulysses S. Grant, Union general

May 28, 2017

Rose Wilder Lane on the Progressive Movement and influence of European national socialism

Meanwhile, during half a century, reactionary influences from Europe have been shifting American thinking onto a basis of socialistic assumptions. In cities and states, both parties began to socialize America with imitations of the Kaiser’s Germany: social welfare laws, labor laws, wage-and-hour laws, citizens’ pension laws, and so-called public ownership.

Eleven years ago this creeping socialism sprang up armed with Federal power, and Americans—suddenly, it seemed—confronted for the first time in their lives a real political question: the choice between American individualism and European national socialism.

Will an American defend the Constitutional law that divides, restricts, limits and weakens political-police power, and thus protects every citizen’s personal freedom, his human rights, his exercise of those rights in a free, productive, capitalist economy and a free society?

Or will he permit the political structure of these United States to be replaced by a socialist state, with its centralized, unrestricted police power regimenting individuals into classes, suppressing individual liberty, sacrificing human rights to an imagined “common good,” and substituting for civil laws the edicts, or “directives,” once accurately called tyranny and now called administrative law?

This is the choice that every American must make. There is no escape from this choice; the present situation puts it before us and requires a decision.

~ Rose Wilder Lane, "Give Me Liberty," 1944 (first published in 1936)

Rose Wilder Lane: Can individualism survive in the U.S.?

There is nothing new in planned and controlled economy. Human beings have lived under various forms of that social security for six thousand years. The new thing is the anarchy of individualism, which has been operating freely only in this country for a century and a half.

When I first wrote this book ten years ago, I asked myself whether individualism has enough social vitality to survive in a world turning back to the essentially medieval, static forms. Can individualism, which by its very nature has no organization and no leader, stand against the determined attack of a small group, organized, controlled, and fanatically sure that a strong man in power can give a people better lives than they can create for themselves?

The spirit of individualism is still here. There are some 130,000,000 human beings in these United States, and not one of us has escaped anxiety, and very few of us have not been forced to reduce our standard of living during these past few years. The number of us who have been out of work and facing actual hunger is not known; the largest estimate has been twelve million. Of this number, barely a third appeared on the reported relief rolls. Somewhere those millions in need of help, who were not helped, are still fighting through this depression on their own.

Millions of farmers are still lords on their own land; they are not receiving checks from the public funds to which they contribute their increasing taxes.

Millions of men and women have quietly been paying debts from which they asked no release; millions have cut expenses to the barest necessities, spending every dime in fear that soon they will have nothing, and somehow being cheerful in the daytime and finding God knows what strength or weakness in themselves during the black nights.

Americans are still paying the price of individual liberty, which is individual responsibility and insecurity.

~ Rose Wilder Lane, "Give Me Liberty," 1944 (first published in 1936)

Rose Wilder Lane: "Is personal freedom worth the effort?"

The question is whether personal freedom is worth the terrible effort, the never-lifted burden, and the risks, the unavoidable risks, of self-reliance.


For each of us, the answer to that question is a personal one.  But the final answer cannot be personal, for individual freedom of choice and of action cannot long exist except among multitudes of individuals who choose it and who are willing to to pay for it.

Multitudes of human beings will not do this unless their freedom is worth more than it costs, not only in value to their own souls but also in terms of the general welfare and the future of their country, which means the welfare and the future of their children.

~ Rose Wilder Lane, "Give Me Liberty," 1944 (first published in 1936)

May 20, 2017

Bill Laggner on a 20-something real estate speculator from Toronto

On a recent NY trip my Uber ride into the city was shared with Lola, a visitor from Toronto.  Our conversation began with why we were visiting the city and her interest in real estate, specifically Toronto where she was an investor in condos along with her brother.  They owned multiple condos, all of which were financed with little or nothing down.  This of course prompted several questions about prices, location and whether or not she was nearing a "flip" of her rented merchandise.  At this point, 20-something Lola looked at me with disdain and the following response: 
"Why would I flip the condos when my brother and I have made several million dollars each and lenders are lined up to lend us more money to but into a project next door?  And the project next door will be incredible because my friend, Drake (rap "artist"), is going to get involved in marketing the project."
After listening to Lola I suggested she read a bit about the US housing bubble circa '05-'08 or take a shortcut and watch The Big Short.  In fact, I emphasized that our firm was one of the most outspoken critics of the central banking inflated housing bubble while profiting from the inevitable demise.  Continuing the conversation about leverage and how it seduces many on the way up while destroying many on the way down it was clear that Lola wasn't interested in my advice.  It reminded me of my trip to southern California in '06, months before the crash in real estate unfolded.

~ Bill Laggner, Bearing Asset Management, May 20, 2017

Brooksley Born on the role of OTC derivatives in the credit bubble

It was my worst nightmare coming true. Nobody really knew what was going on in the market.  The toxic assets of many of our biggest banks are OTC derivatives and caused the economic downturn that made us lose our savings, lose our jobs, lose our homes.  It was very frightening.

~ Brooksley Born, October 20, 2009

Nick Colas: stocks would rally 3-5% if Trump resigned

What would U.S. stocks do if President Trump suddenly resigned? Based on recent price action, the answer is clear: Rally 3-5%, at least, over a day or two. U.S. equities see through the headlines (like the Comey firing) and essentially believe two things. First, corporate earnings are growing nicely. Second, the Republican-led Congress needs to pass tax reform by the 2018 midterm elections.

~ Nick Colas, chief market strategist, Convergex, May 12, 2017

(See "Here's why stocks could rally if Trump heads for the exit,, May 12, 2017.)

Jeremy Siegel: the Dow would rally 1,000 points if Trump resigned

If Donald Trump resigned tomorrow, I think the Dow would go up 1,000 points.

One has to remember that the rally since Trump’s election has been based not on Trump’s agenda [but] on the Republican agenda. I would say that 90% of the people, investors on Wall Street, and most of the CEOs, would prefer a President Michael Pence, rather than Donald Trump. So, in a way you know what kind a trouble he’d be, might he have to resign, might he be impeached... all that does not derail the Republican agenda, upon which this rally was based.

~ Jeremy Siegel, CNBC interview, May 17, 2017

(See "Man who called Dow 20,000 says stock market could see 1,000-point surge if Trump resigns,", May 18, 2017.)

May 5, 2017

Warren Buffett on the economy (2017)

I don't see anything but a steady rise.

~ Warren Buffett, CNBC interview, May 5, 2017

May 2, 2017

Donald Trump on Janet Yellen and her low interest rate policy

I like her, I respect her…I do like a low interest rate policy, I must be honest with you.

~ President Donald Trump, interview with The Wall Street Journal, April 12, 2017

Apr 12, 2017

John Bogle on mentoring

Mentoring, in my mind, is less about helping someone fill out a checklist of accomplishments, and much more about passing along the immeasurable qualities one needs to be successful in their field --character, professionalism, honesty, intellectual curiosity, even humor. If you possess sufficient amounts of those characteristics, you're likely to be successful in whatever field you work in.

~ John Bogle

Ernest Hemingway on bankruptcy

"How did you go bankrupt?” Bill asked. "Two ways,” Mike said. “Gradually and then suddenly.”

~ Ernest Hemingway, The Sun Also Rises

Apr 11, 2017

John Bogle sees investment management as a zero sum game

In the debate about the fiduciary rule, one basic fact has been largely ignored. Investment wealth is created by our public corporations and reflected in stock prices. Stock market returns are then allocated between the financial industry (Wall Street) and shareholders (Main Street). So when the consulting firm A.T. Kearney projected that the fiduciary rule would result in as much as $20 billion in lost revenue for the industry by 2020, it meant that net investment returns for investors would increase by $20 billion.

By any definition, that’s a social good.

~ John Bogle, "Putting Clients Second," The New York Times, February 9, 2017

Kevin Duffy on the Fiduciary Rule

If we’re going to pass a law against conflicts of interest, shouldn’t there be a law against lobbying the government when such a conflict exists?  (Which is always, of course.)  How can John Bogle not admit that he and his friends benefit from the Fiduciary Rule?

The irony, of course, is that indexation needs discovery agents, and this legislation will put more obstacles in their path.  Without price discovery (e.g., interest rates set by the market) and discovery agents (active investors, short sellers, upstart entrepreneurs), there is no vibrant economy that generates the returns Mr. Bogle’s customers covet.

It can’t be a coincidence that the government only recently discovered the merits of high-liquidity low-fee investing after a tripling of the S&P 500 in 8 years and a 35 year bull market in bonds.  Should we be thanking them for ringing the bell yet again?

~ Kevin Duffy, April 11, 2017

The Economist magazine on regulation

The collateral and permanent effects on legislation... are so very complicated, and very often much more important than the direct and temporary effects, that to make good laws seems a work fit rather for God than man.

~ The Economist, 1846

Apr 8, 2017

Lysander Spooner on the Constitution

But whether the Constitution really be one thing, or another, this much is certain — that it has either authorized such a government as we have had, or has been powerless to prevent it. In either case, it is unfit to exist.

 ~ Lysander Spooner

Apr 5, 2017

Jim Grant on how markets do not always look ahead

Markets that supposedly and rightly ought to be looking ahead, sometime look back.

~ James Grant, Grant's podcast, January 27, 2017

(Grant was describing the spring of 1984 when U.S. T-bonds yielded 14% briefly in May while year-over-year CPI was 4% or less.  In other words, real yields were an astounding 10%.)

Jim Grant on the sovereign debt bubble

We live in a time of actual novelty.  Negatively yield sovereign debt is one such novelty and it is a doozy.

~ James Grant, Grant's podcast, January 27, 2017

Apr 4, 2017

Jim Grant on investing where the outlook is awful

There's a saying that a rally from awful to bad is much more lucrative for investors than from good to great.

~ James Grant, interview with Steve Forbes, June 4, 2014, 23:30 mark

(Grant was making the bull case for India.)

Joe Robillard on successful investing

Successful investing is about having everyone agree with you... later.

~ Joseph C. Robillard, Hhr Asset Management LLC

(Jim Grant quoted his friend, Joe Robillard, in this interview with Steve Forbes, at the 21:45 mark.)

Jim Grant on the definition of macroeconomics

My contention is that macroeconomics especially is politics dressed up in algebra.

~ James Grant, interview with Steve Forbes, June 4, 2014

Mar 29, 2017

Irving Fisher endorses presidential candidate Herbert Hoover (1928)

Mr. Hoover is a practical economist and one to whom is due more largely than to any other one man improvement in our prosperity...  Mr. Hoover knows as few men do the terrible evils of inflation and deflation, and the need of avoiding both if business and agriculture are to be stabilized.

~ Irving Fisher, July 29, 1928

Mar 26, 2017

Daniel Kahneman on the spreading falsehoods

A reliable way to make people believe in falsehoods is frequent repetition, because familiarity is not easily distinguished from truth.  Authoritarian institutions and marketers have always known this fact.

~ Daniel Kahneman

Mar 22, 2017

Doug Pollitt on the U.S. government bond market

If you are a creditor, the last person you want to see on the other side of the table is Donald Trump.

~ Doug Pollitt, "And the dull pangs of regret...," Pollitt & Co. Research, November 16, 2016

Mar 17, 2017

Kevin Duffy on how Milton Friedman was guilty of data mining when studying the Great Depression

Milton Friedman studied the Great Depression and noticed that money supply dropped by one-third from 1929-1933.  He came to the conclusion that this was the cause of the depression and that the Fed hadn't acted strongly enough.  He also influenced a guy by the name of Ben Bernanke who, at Friedman’s 90th birthday party, vowed not to make the same “mistake.” 

Did the Fed really sit bit idly as Friedman claimed?  Actually, no.  The Fed acted aggressively, buying government securities and expanding its balance sheet from 1929-1933.  It also lowered the discount rate from 5% to 1 ½%.  Friedman appears to be guilty of data mining.  Correlation doesn’t prove causation.  In fact, gold flows and loss of confidence in banks were contributing factors to the contraction in money supply.  If anything, the monetary inflation of the Fed probably made matters worse.

~ Kevin Duffy, "Mr. Market Flunks the Marshmallow Test," Grant's Spring Conference, March 15, 2017

Mar 12, 2017

Kevin Duffy on the elitist bubble

The financial elites think the masses are ignorant rubes who show up late for every asset party.  Yet it is the elites who are most economically ignorant -- the ultimate bag holders this cycle.

~ Kevin Duffy

Mar 9, 2017

~ Joseph Sobran on the two economies

As I see it now, there are really two economies — two distinct systems of producing and exchanging wealth.  Or rather, two systems that purport to do these things, though only one of them really produces anything, and the other is organized by a peculiar form of exchange.

The first is what is called the trade economy — the one summed up in the phrase "the free market."  The other might be called "the tax economy."

The trade economy is so familiar there is no need to say much about it, beyond pointing out that its operative principle is consent.  Its mechanism is the price system.

The tax economy is something fairly new—to America anyway.  A few generations ago the amount of wealth taken in taxes was only a sliver of the country's aggregate wealth.  But the government's share has increased to such an extent that it has become a whole separate economy.

~ Joseph Sobran, "The Two Economies," The Free Market, January 1991

Joseph Sobran on greed and the state

The state is never accused of greed.  There is no limit to what it may take from us. And those who live on what is taken in taxes are never accused of greed either.  Greed is virtually identified with the "profit motive." We have no invidious term for the parasitic motive.  The state and its clients are all but immune from moral criticism.

~ Joseph Sobran, "The Two Economies," The Free Market, January 1991

Mar 5, 2017

Business Week economist on government spending to fight the Great Depression

Just as we saved our way into depression, we must squander our way out of it.

~ Virgil Jordon, Business Week economist, 1932

Ralph Hawtrey on the American experiment of stabilizing the price level

The American experiment in stabilization from 1922 to 1928 showed that early treatment could shake a tendency either to inflation or to depression in a few months, before any serious damage had been done.  The American experiment was a great advance upon the practice of the 19th century.

~ Ralph G. Hawtrey, British Treasury's Director of Financial Studies, The Art of Central Banking (1932), p. 300

(Murray Rothbard describes Hawtrey as "one of the evil geniuses of the 1920s" in America's Great Depression, p. 159.)

Ludwig von Mises on indoctrination in public schools vs. popular culture

On the high school level and even on the college level the handing down of historical and economic knowledge is virtually indoctrination.  The greater part of the students are certainly not mature enough to form their own opinion on the ground of a critical examination of their teachers' representation of the subject.

If public education were more efficient than it really is, the political parties would urgently aim at the domination of the school system in order to determine the mode in which these subjects are to be taught.  However, general education plays only a minor role in the formation of the political, social, and economic ideas of the rising generation. The impact of the press, the radio, and environmental conditions is much more powerful than that of teachers and textbooks.  The propaganda of the churches, the political parties, and the pressure groups outstrips the influence of the schools, whatever they may teach.  What is learned in school is often very soon forgotten and cannot carry on against the continuous hammering of the social milieu in which a man moves.

~ Ludwig von Mises, Human Action, pp. 877-878

Mar 4, 2017

Warren Buffett fails to see any bubble behavior (2017)

It's not like during the internet boom or – and there have been various real peaks – I've written a couple of times when I thought things were getting out of hand on the high side. And-that's not now. Now, if interest rates dramatically upward, then these valuations would come down, in my view. But I don't see the games being played on a big scale that you had in the late '60s or that you had around the internet time, you know. I don't see lots of just fallacies being promoted. Or games being built on accounting tricks and that sort of thing.

~ Warren Buffett, CNBC interview, February 27, 2017

Warren Buffett on the difference between a diplomat and a lady

If a diplomat says yes, he means maybe. If he says maybe, he means no. And if he says no, he's no diplomat. And if a lady says no, she means maybe. And if she says maybe, she means yes. And if she says yes, she's no lady.

~ Warren Buffett

Mar 3, 2017

Kevin Duffy on the difference between slavery and government

200 years ago slavery was rationalized on the basis chaos would ensue without it. Today government is rationalized on the same basis. How will we be judged in 200 years?

~ Kevin Duffy

Mar 2, 2017

E.A. Blair on intellectuals

Some ideas are so stupid only intellectuals believe them.

 ~ E.A. Blair

Feb 21, 2017

Seattle Post-Intelligencer gives debut of The Bachelor two thumbs down (2002)

ABC could have saved a ton on limousine fees if it had shrink-wrapped 25 women and placed them in the meat case at Safeway.

 ~ Seattle Post-Intelligencer, 2002

Feb 6, 2017

Bill Bonner: "investment markets reward virtue and punish sin"

We are, frankly, in far too much awe of the world, and too deeply entertained by it, to think that we can understand it today or foretell tomorrow.  Life's most attractive components - love and money - are far too complex for reliable soothsaying.  Still, we can't resist taking a guess.

We may not know how the world works, but we are immodest enough to think we can know how it does not work.  The stock market is not, for example, a simple mechanism like an ATM machine, where you merely tap in the right numbers to get cash out when you need it.  Instead, the investment markets - like life itself - are always complicated, often perverse, and occasionally absurd.  But that does not mean that they are completely random; though unexpected, life's surprises may not always be undeserved.  Delusions have consequences.  And, sooner or later, the reckoning day comes and the bills must be paid.

In this sense, the investment markets are not mechanistic at all, but judgmental.  As we will see, they reward virtue and punish sin.

~ Bill Bonner, Financial Reckoning Day (2006), p. 2

Feb 5, 2017

The New York Times: "A taxi medallion is comparable to buying an apartment in Manhattan" (2011)

A taxi medallion is comparable to buying an apartment in Manhattan. It will always make good money and pay for itself.

~ The New York Times, 2011

Bill Bonner on the upward (bumpy) slope of human progress

When it comes to science and technology, man learns.  When it comes to love, war, and finance, he makes the same mistakes over and over again.

~ Bill Bonner

Feb 2, 2017

Kevin Duffy on the learning process

The learning process, if pursued long enough, goes through many phases: trepidation, pain, comfort, confidence, overconfidence, and ultimately humility.

Feb 1, 2017

We are not going to achieve a new world order without paying for it in blood as well as in words and money.

~ Arthur Schlesinger, Jr., Foreign Affairs, July/August 1995

Jan 31, 2017

Jim Grant reports on the bond bubble: "$13 trillion of bonds are priced with negative yields"

Arbor Quantitative Analytics reports that the 30-year Treasury bond delivered a 10% return in the 10 days ended last week, among the best such sprints on record (it was in the 99.5th percentile).  Tuesday's Financial Times reported a drop in 10-year gilt yields to 0.71%, far below any yield recorded even when the pound was convertible into gold at a fixed price.  "Across the world," the paper said, "government bond yields continue to collapse as economists forecast low global growth and greater stimulus from central banks in spite of years of monetary easing.  Dutch benchmark 10-year rates are now negative, joining those of Japan, Germany and Switzerland."  According to Bank of America Merrill Lynch, $13 trillion of bonds are priced with negative yields, up from just about none two years ago.

~ Jim Grant, Grant's Interesting Rate Observer, "Remember the Shell Oil 2 1/2s of 1971," July 15, 2016

Grant's: "sovereign debt is the biggest bubble since the Bronze Age" (2016)

If practice makes perfect, Grant's is unrivaled in calling the top in bond prices.  We have done so repeatedly over the course of many years, even if not lately; since 2014, our line has rather been "one last gasp" for the bulls.  We now say that the last gasp has been gulped.  With all the fluency that comes with study and repetition, we say that sovereign debt is the biggest bubble since the Bronze Age, or maybe since ancient Sumer.  The notion that negative-yielding bonds, denominated in a fiat currency, are a "safe" asset is a misconception that belongs in the next edition of Extraordinary Popular Delusions and the Madness of Crowds.  We are bearish on bonds, especially the ones that, like new cars on a dealer's lot, positively guarantee the owner a loss as soon as he takes possession of his property.

~ Jim Grant, Grant's Interesting Rate Observer, "Remember the Shell Oil 2 1/2s of 1971," July 15, 2016

Jan 20, 2017

Donald Trump inauguration: protection leads to prosperity

Protection will lead to great prosperity and strength.

~ President Donald J. Trump, inauguration speech, January 20, 2017

Jan 18, 2017

Fast Money trader thinks every dip is a buying opportunity, even the terrifying 2% variety

When we get a 2% correction we’ll find out who has the stones to buy.

~ John Najarian, as appeared on CNBC’s Fast Money, January 17, 2017

Jan 16, 2017

Tony Hawk on success

My definition of success is doing what you love.  I feel many people do things because they feel they have to, and are hesitant to risk following their passion.

~ Tony Hawk, professional skateboarder and entrepreneur

Grace Hopper on information overload

We’re flooding people with information.  We need to feed it through a processor.  A human must turn information into intelligence or knowledge.  We’ve tended to forget that no computer will ever ask a new question.

~ Grace Hopper, computer scientist and U.S. Navy admiral

Benjamin Disraeli on adversity

There is no education like adversity.

~ Benjamin Disraeli, British statesman

Mehmet Oz on anger

The opposite of anger is not calmness, it’s empathy.

~ Mehmet Oz, physician

Joe DiMaggio on leadership

A person doing his or her best becomes a natural leader, just by example.

~ Joe DiMaggio

Marilyn vos Savant

Being defeated is often a temporary condition.  Giving up is what makes it permanent.

~ Marilyn vos Savant, columnist

Jan 11, 2017

Scott Peck on white lies

White lies may be every bit as destructive as black ones.  A government that withholds essential information from its people by censorship is no more democratic than one that speaks falsely...  Indeed, because it may seem less reprehensible, the withholding of essential information is the most common form of lying, and because it may be the more difficult to detect and confront, it is often even more pernicious than black-lying.

White-lying is considered socially acceptable in many of our relationships because "we don't want to hurt peoples' feelings.  Yet we may bemoan the fact that our social relationships are generally superficial.  For parents to feed their children a pap of white lies is not only considered acceptable but is thought to be loving and beneficent...  Usually such withholding and lack of openness is rationalized on the basis of a loving desire to protect and shield their children from unnecessary worries...  The result, then, is not protection but deprivation.  The children are deprived of the knowledge they might gain about money, illness, drugs, sex, marriage, their parents, their grandparents and people in general...  Finally, they are deprived of role models of openness and honesty, and are provided instead with role models of partial honesty, incomplete openness and limited courage.

~ M. Scott Peck, M.D., The Road Less Traveled, "Withholding Truth," pp. 59-60

Scott Peck on the link between lies and mental illness

One of the roots of mental illness is invariably an interlocking system of lies we have been told and lies we have told ourselves.

~ M. Scott Peck, M.D., The Road Less Traveled, "Openness to Challenge," p. 58

Scott Peck on the paths to reality and delusion

A life of total dedication to the truth also means a life of willingness to be personally challenged.  The only way that we can be certain that our map of reality is valid is to expose it to the criticism and challenge of other map-makers.  Otherwise we live in a closed system - within a bell jar, to use Sylvia Plath's analogy, rebreathing only our own fetid air, more and more subject to delusion.

~ M. Scott Peck, M.D., The Road Less Traveled, "Openness to Challenge," p. 52

Scott Peck: truth is more vital to our self-interest than comfort

We must always hold truth, as best we can determine it, to be more important, more vital to our self-interest, than our comfort.  Conversely, we must always consider our personal discomfort relatively unimportant and, indeed, even welcome it in the service of the search for truth.  Mental health is an ongoing process of dedication to reality at all costs.

~ M. Scott Peck, M.D., The Road Less Traveled, p. 50

Scott Peck on personal roadmaps and dedication to reality

Our view of reality is like a map with which to negotiate the terrain of life.  If the map is true and accurate, we will generally know where we are, and if we have decided where we want to go, we will generally know how to get there.  If the map is false and inaccurate, we generally will be lost. (p. 44)


By the end of middle age people have given up the effort.  They feel certain that their maps are complete and their Weltanschauug is correct (indeed, even sacrosanct), and they are no longer interested in new information.  It is as if they are tired.  Only a relative and fortunate few continue until the moment of death exploring the mystery of reality, ever enlarging and refining their understanding of the world and what is true. (p. 45)


Rather than try to change the map, an individual may try to destroy the new reality.  Sadly, such a person may expend much more energy ultimately in defending an outmoded view of the world than would have been required to revise and correct it in the first place. (p. 46)

~ M. Scott Peck, M.D., The Road Less Traveled (1978), "Dedication to Reality"

Jan 9, 2017

Rodney Stark on why the fall of Rome was a blessing

The fall of Rome was not a tragic setback; had the empire prevailed, there would be nothing to call Western Civilization. If Rome still ruled, Europe would be mired in a brutal command economy, there would have been very little innovation of any kind, and the rest of the world probably would be much as Europeans found it in the fifteenth and sixteenth centuries. Empires are the enemies of progress!

 ~ Rodney Stark, The Victory of Reason, page 75

Jan 7, 2017

Stephanie Pomboy is bullish on fiscal stimulus under Trump

We can finally get back to the business of real economic growth - real men building real things.  It all sounds fabulous.  And it will be - if and when it happens.

~ Stephanie Pomboy, MacroMavens, January 7, 2017
(as quoted by Kopin Tan in the Jan. 9th issue of Barron's)

Peter Drucker on leadership

Effective leadership is not about making speeches or being liked; leadership is defined by results, not attributes.

~ Peter Drucker, management consultant

Nelson Mandela on change

One of the things I learned when I was negotiating was that until I changed myself I could not change others.

~ Nelson Mandela

Gail Ayers on technology

Technology is simply a tool supporting human brilliance.

~ Gail Ayers, business executive

Carl Jung on action

You are what you do, not what you say you'll do.

~ Carl Jung, psychotherapist

Robert Louis Stevenson on achievement

Don't judge each day by the harvest you reap but by the seeds that you plant.

~ Robert Louis Stevenson

Christopher Morley on persistence

Big shots are only little shots who keep shooting.

~ Christopher Morley, novelist

Twyla Tharp on communication

It is extremely arrogant and very foolish to think that you can ever outwit your audience.

~ Twyla Tharp, dancer

B.C. Forbes on reading

The man who is too busy to read is never likely to lead.

~ B.C. Forbes, magazine editor

Caterina Fake on working hard vs. working smart

So often people are working hard at the wrong thing.  Working on the right thing is probably more important than working hard.

~ Caterina Fake, entrepreneur

Charles Munger on reading and wisdom

In my whole life, I have known no wise people who didn’t read all the time—none, zero.

~ Charles Munger

Jan 5, 2017

Frederic Bastiat

The worst thing that can happen to a good cause is, not to be skillfully attacked, but to be ineptly defended.

~ Frederic Bastiat

Pablo Picasso on procrastination

Only put off until tomorrow what your are willing to die having left undone.

~ Pablo Picasso