Bulls, Bears, and Beyond: In Depth with James Grant, by Kevin Duffy

Since 1983, James Grant has published an outstanding newsletter (Grant’s Interest Rate Observer), focused on economics and finance. Reflecting its value, an annual subscription of 24 issues will set you back $1295. This interview is a rare opportunity to hear what Grant has to say for free. From Kevin Duffy at mises.org:

James Grant is editor of Grant’s Interest Rate Observer, which he founded in 1983. He is the author of nine books, including Money of the Mind, The Trouble with Prosperity, John Adams: Party of One, The Forgotten Depression, and more recently Bagehot: The Life and Times of the Greatest Victorian. In 2015 Grant received the prestigious Gerald Loeb Lifetime Achievement Award for excellence in business journalism. James Grant is an associated scholar of the Mises Institute.

Kevin Duffy is principal of Bearing Asset Management, which he cofounded in 2002. The firm manages the Bearing Core Fund, a contrarian, macro-themed hedge fund with a flexible mandate. He earned a BS in civil engineering from Missouri University of Science and Technology and has a passion for financial history, Austrian economics, and pithy quotes. He also publishes a bimonthly investment letter called the Coffee Can Portfolio. Duffy attended Mises University in 1990 after seeing Lew Rockwell on CNN’s Crossfire in 1989.


Kevin Duffy interviewed James Grant for his newsletter Coffee Can Portfolio. It is reprinted with permission.

KEVIN DUFFY: 2020 has been part dystopian fiction, part tulip mania. How do we reconcile the two?

JAMES GRANT: I’m not sure there’s much distinction. To me, the current form of dystopia is the bubble form, so I think this is the year of the dystopian bubble.

KD: There has been a worship of authorities. For the past thirty-seven years you’ve focused mainly on the Fed, but this year we’ve seen a reverence for medical authorities. Who has done more damage?

JG: The medical authorities remind me of the economic authorities. Both pretend to draw a bead on the future. Let’s compare them both to the meteorological authorities. The National Weather Service spends over a billion dollars a year and takes tens of millions, if not billions, of discrete observations of wind, weather, tide, temperature, what have you. But notice the five- and ten-day forecasts on your trusty iPhone are ever changing. This is the weather. Temperature gradients don’t have feelings, they don’t get jealous of the millionaire next door, they don’t watch CNBC, yet our forecasting ability goes out, maximum, ten days. Even so, the economists think nothing of calling next year’s GDP.

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