Tim Price: Still stuck in the Middle Ages
Comment of the Day

May 09 2013

Commentary by David Fuller

Tim Price: Still stuck in the Middle Ages

My thanks to the author for his ever-interesting letter published by PFP Wealth Management. Here is a section from the conclusion
So the business of investing can no longer be conducted in a rational economic environment. Free market cleansing of malinvestments made during the boom years cannot occur because the free market itself has been suspended. Overmighty governments and their economic agents, notably the central banks, are once again showing the futility of a policy of supporting national champions - those champions today, ironically, being banks that would under any other environment be forced into insolvency. This is not a problem existentially limited to the UK. It afflicts most of the "developed" western economies - developed in the sense that a body riddled with cancer can be said to be "developed". So we do the best job we can under such extreme circumstances. We take shelter in credit of unimpeachable quality (not Gilts or US Treasuries) as an alternative to sitting idly in useless cash. We sail close to shore within attractively valued listed equity investments of businesses catering to a constituency of rising wealth (the Asian domestic consumer, for example) instead of one catering to the bombed-out, tapped-out, over-indebted and over-taxed western consumer. We diversify further into uncorrelated managed funds, and we diversify still further into currency that cannot simply be printed into exhaustion: the precious, monetary metals whose fundamental values are still so widely misunderstood in such a bleakly dishonest financial landscape. And we wait - and now actively agitate - for the sort of political radicals capable of understanding both how we got into this mess, and how we might shrink the overmighty state in order to get out of it. It may be a long wait. People, notably political zealots, have a tendency to cling to irrational beliefs rather than sound thinking. As Edward O. Wilson once said,

"Men would rather believe than know."

David Fuller's view This is a particularly interesting issue, in which Tim Price makes a robust case for Austrian School economics, illustrated by three must-see graphs, not least the UK composite price index 1750 - 2003.

In our often Catch-22 world of economics, I have always felt that Austrian School policies were the best way to ensure that a strong economy has a good chance of staying that way over the longer term.

However, as a shock remedy for mismanaged and deeply indebted economies, I have always regarded Austrian policies as akin to a near death experience on the way to health. Moreover, there are other ways to recover. They may take longer but the social cost is less savage.

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