Has finance reached peak insanity? If not, it’s pretty close. From Doomberg at doomberg.substack.com:
“Speculation on the stock exchange has spread to all ranks of the population and shares rise like air balloons to limitless heights…. The population was now engaged in evading taxation and devoting their money to speculative purchases…. Shares in respectable concerns which had paid a 20% dividend, were pushed higher and higher till the final holders could not expect a return of even 1%.” – Adam Fergusson, When Money Dies
I am an avid consumer of written history. As a doom-oriented pattern recognizer, the written chronology of historically transformative events provides an endless source of almost-relevant analogies to fret over. For those of us in the gold/hard money/real asset/Austrian school of economics, the ultimate doom porn is Adam Fergusson’s seminal book on the hyperinflation experienced in Germany after World War I, When Money Dies. Unlike most of you, I’ve only read it three times.
When I read the retelling of history, I try to imagine what the people were thinking in the moment. Not what they would later claim they were thinking with the benefit of hindsight, but how they digested the daily news headlines in real time, internalized the risks and rewards of the present day, and behaved in ways that I can only assume were in their best interest as they understood it. Did they sense what was coming or did they think things would quickly regress back to normal? How did certain people separate signal from noise and protect themselves, while others drowned in the oncoming tsunami of destruction?