Just when you thought it was safe to get back into the slaughter, along comes Holt with word that deflation, not inflation,...



Just when you thought it was safe to get back into the slaughter, along comes Holt with word that deflation, not inflation, will be the principal investment influence of the ""ebbing 'eighties."" That being the case, he sees little to be gained soon from equities, gold, real estate, collectibles, or other trendy vehicles. But Holt, who has made a name for himself by challenging conventional wisdom, is more interested in setting the marketplace scene than in making specific recommendations. From tracking the past as well as present course of cash and credit through the economy, Holt believes America's borrowing binge is at or near a cyclical peak. By way of example, he notes that banks, with loan/deposit ratios above 80 percent (higher than in 1929), are in no position to assume aditional liabilities; most consumers and businesses are tapped out as well. Imminent illiquidity, together with energy, constraints, will almost certainly rectify long-standing imbalances in supply/demand relationships, forcing down prices for goods and services. And the prospective shortage of discretionary dollars, coupled with unfavorable demographic factors (e.g., a growing corpus of retirees with pension entitlements), spells trouble for securities quotes. While cautioning against the counsel of alarmists who foresee a complete economic breakdown, Holt does not inspire confidence with constant and casual references to ""the coming depression."" Eventually, however, he pauses to explain that in his book ""a recession is an economic process which corrects excesses in commerce; a depression corrects excesses in finance."" In any event, Holt assures the providently prepared that the dislocations (bankruptcies, double-digit unemployment, inventory liquidations, et al.) need not concern them unduly: ""Until the coming liquidity squeeze has run its full course, cash is king."" Pending the time that yields on common stocks top those on bonds, he advises committing spare dollars to fixed-income vehicles, in particular Treasury or government agency issues that afford superior liquidity. (Because he thinks wholesale bank failures may be in store, Holt is wary of money market funds.) Gold, he now believes, has become ""just another volatile commodity. . . [and] an overpriced one at that."" By pursuing his flow-of-funds premises to logical if not always inarguable conclusions, Holt offers considered alternatives to orthodox investment theory.

Pub Date: April 1, 1981


Page Count: -

Publisher: Rawson, Wade--dist. by Atheneum

Review Posted Online: N/A

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 1, 1981