Given the great results with our personal portfolio, and our rather unseemly crowing about it yesterday, we decided we needed to cut ourselves down a peg. Pride goeth before a fall, they say.
Reading all the doom-saying newsletters we get constantly doesn’t do it. “Hyperinflation! Guaranteed!” Verbal images of post-WW I Germany are almost always used. This is why we post gold, silver and crude oil prices nearly weekly. They all reached mid-level peaks and have dropped back since then.
We have a friend right here in River City who firmly believes we are on the very verge of hyperinflation, facts to the contrary notwithstanding. We think it’s a genetic thing. Some are born to, or have parents who taught that, the worst is right around the corner. You know, “You’d better watch out, Better not cry, Better not shout, I’m tellin’ you why…”
What to read to bring us back to reality? Why, none other than the estimable Jane Jacobs, whose books have revolutionized thinking on many fronts. We have given away dozens of her ground-breaking book, “Systems of Survival.” We read and enjoyed her “Death and Life of Great American Cities.” These were books that dealt with reality. We didn’t agree with some of her remedies, but found her books compelling. We are sad that she has passed away – we need her voice.
But she left us with one more book, not as positive as the others, but looking at an issue that has bothered us for years. “Dark Age Ahead.” We ordered it months ago, but just started it last night. It perfectly fits with the time period we have been studying for much the same reason she tackled her topic. For us, it is the time immediately following the Fall of Rome – 395 C.E.
It wasn’t all horrible then. The slide down into the ash heap of history was agonizingly slow, accompanied by what Jacobs calls “mass amnesia.” This is how cultures and Empires not only die, but are totally forgotten and unrecoverable. We hope we agree with her last chapter this time!
Investment lesson: Prepare yourself for the worst. If you can.