By John Mauldin
There are times, my friends Michael Lewitt and Dr. Lacy Hunt agreed today at lunch, when the study of economics is best informed by a sound knowledge of history. Indeed, Michael's son wants to follow his father into the finance world, and Michael is starting him off in history. I have spent hours listening to Lacy stroll through economic history, detailing the path of economic thought from Fisher to Kindleberger to Minsky. The last few days have been one of those times when I realized how much I don't know and how much more there is to learn. Not only Lacy and Michael are here in Florida, but a long list of bright minds to learn from. James Rickards, who has recently written the tour de force book Currency Wars, Harry Dent, Doug Casey, Porter Stansberry, Greg Weldon, and John Williams of Shadow Stats, with whom I look forward to meeting (do I have questions for him!). And so many more.
And it is because I simply have to stop, listen and learn (and visit with friends) that this week I will kind of take the weekend off and instead send you one of the more remarkable essays I have read in a long time. It is a speech by Jim Grant to the New York Federal Reserve. The always erudite Grant takes us back in time to the very beginnings of the Federal Reserve, to show us how far we have strayed from the original intent. I really think you should read this. I have perused it several times and intend to read it yet again – and then some more.
Grant argued for a return to the gold standard in the very halls of fiat money! It seems the New York Fed is asking some of its critics to come and speak. I have read some of the speeches, but this is the best so far for several reasons, not the least of which is that it contains some very funny lines. If you find yourself invited to the lion's den, Grant seems to think it is best to make fun of their teeth! You really do have to admire his courage. I think I would be a little concerned that I might be on the menu!
I will make a few comments at the end of his speech and then note some upcoming speaking events in Atlanta and Philadelphia. But let's jump straight away into today's main event.
A Piece Of My Mind
By Jim Grant
My friends and neighbors, I thank you for this opportunity. You know, we are friends and neighbors. Grant's makes its offices on Wall Street, overlooking Broadway, a 10-minute stroll from your imposing headquarters. For a spectacular vantage point on the next ticker-tape parade up Broadway, please drop by. We'll have the windows washed.
You say you would like to hear my complaints, and, on the one hand, I do have a few, while on the other, I can't help but feel slightly hypocritical in dressing you down. What passes for sound doctrine in 21st-century central banking—so-called financial repression, interest-rate manipulation, stock-price levitation and money printing under the frosted-glass term "quantitative easing"—presents us at Grant's with a nearly endless supply of good copy. Our symbiotic relationship with the Fed resembles that of Fox News with the Obama administration, or—in an earlier era—that of the Chicago Tribune with the Purple Gang. Grant's needs the Fed even if the Fed doesn't need Grant's.
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