Can owning a Chagall keep the wolf from the door? In a time of a predatory capitalism that is beginning to feed on itself, that and a knowledge of complexity theory might get you more than a cup of coffee.
Granted, financial consultant Rickards (The New Case for Gold, 2016, etc.) has been crying Ragnarök for a long time. Even so, the subtitle of this latest may be a touch more breathless than the contents really call for. Never mind that the author does indeed urge on his readers the thesis that the elite, whoever they may be—George Soros, to be sure, but Christopher Dodd?—have three things on their agenda: “world money, world taxation, and world order.” The conspiracy theory stuff never goes away, but when Rickards’ text settles down into its nerdier tropes, it gets interesting, if a little daunting. The author argues that the complex global financial system is now largely immune to analysis by the static tools of classical economics; “complex systems,” he rightly remarks, “behave in a completely different manner from equilibrium systems.” Number crunching begins to look like a secondary tool to the wind-reading skills of psychological forecasting: who’s going to freak out first, and when? Examining such things as Bayesian probability (the “theorem is messy, but it’s still better than nothing”), scaling metrics, and density functions, Rickards makes a good case to get smarter to how people actually think, which is seldom logical and seldom smart. He concludes, in the more sober and less conspiracy-minded portion of this double-edged book, with a view of what a well-structured, wealth-preserving portfolio might look like in a time when wealth creation is ebbing but wealth extraction—from your pocket, that is—is rising. Among its components are bonds and land, of course, but also, not surprisingly, “physical gold and silver…(coins and bars, no numismatics)” and, more surprisingly, museum-quality fine art.
There’s much for the alarmist here but food for thought for the calm investor, too.