Before we uncover the latest way in which central bankers and politicians are conspiring to make your financial life as miserable as possible, a quick reminder that Fortune & Freedom hasn’t lost sight of its real mission: to help you take advantage of opportunities to grow your wealth.
In that line of thinking, we’d like to show you a way to potentially boost your stock market gains by becoming more active in the market… which is precisely the opposite advice most people seem to be hearing these days. Instead of staying passive, and letting the FTSE 100 take you where it will, we’d like to show you how to squeeze more out of blue chip stocks.
Just don’t lose sight of the threats though. One of which was highlighted in rather spectacular fashion last week…
It’s supposedly the most famous speech in American political history (although Abraham Lincoln might not agree). And it’s just been given again, by a most unlikely character in Hugh Hendry, the self-proclaimed “Acid Capitalist”.
Today, I want you to appreciate why even a man as boring as a bank analyst would moan in giddy elation on live financial radio in response to the following words uttered by Hendry last week: “We are seeing the crucifixion of the common man on the cross of the vanity of Jay Powell.”
That, my friends, is as glorious as it gets in financial market radio. A real humdinger it’ll take more than a century to explain. But it’s worth it, I promise.
On 9 July 1896, at the Democratic National Convention in Chicago, the politician William Jennings Bryan delivered a speech that became known as the “Cross of Gold” speech. The debate at the time was all about whether silver should be money alongside gold or not.
On the one side of the debate were those who defended the gold standard’s virtues as a limit on the money supply.
On the other side were those who wanted to increase the money supply in order to grease the wheels of commerce.
The government wasn’t quite dishonest enough to even consider quantitative easing back then. Arbitrarily creating money would’ve been seen as downright fraud, back then.
Instead, politicians wanted to add silver to the money supply, creating a bi-metallic standard. If that sounds odd, consider that it was pretty much the norm for the US, which had only gone onto the gold standard quite recently. Britain was on a bi-metallic standard between the 13th and 19th century, giving Master of the Mint, Sir Isaac Newton, many sleepless nights along the way.
A bi-metallic standard would reverse the tight monetary policy that the gold standard had imposed and make more money available to the economy, unleashing economic growth and prosperity. At least, that was one side’s claim.
It was such an all-encompassing national division in America in 1896 that even the plot of The Wizard of Oz is believed to be an allegory to the debate. The yellow brick road being the gold standard, Oz being an abbreviation to ounce, the wizard’s façade representing the false nature of the gold standard, and the silver slippers representing the addition of silver to the money supply.
Anyway, up pops William Jennings Bryan at the 1896 Democratic convention to argue in favour of remonetising silver. And he finished with a flurry so engaging that some people, according to a reporter, “like demented things, divested themselves of their coats and flung them high in the air.”
The speech was so good that Bryan spent a good few years repeating it around the US, even managing to get recorded in the infancy of the technology. Here’s the famous excerpt that got the crowd going, with emphasis added by Bryan and me:
If they dare to come out in the open field and defend the gold standard as a good thing, we shall fight them to the uttermost, having behind us the producing masses of the nation and the world. Having behind us the commercial interests and the laboring interests and all the toiling masses, we shall answer their demands for a gold standard by saying to them, you shall not press down upon the brow of labor this crown of thorns. You shall not crucify mankind upon a cross of gold.
Here are Hendry’s comments from last week again, for comparison: “We are seeing the crucifixion of the common man on the cross of the vanity of Jay Powell.”
Do you see the allusion? Bank analyst Chris Whalen, who I have been following here for many years, certainly did. He literally moaned his delight in response to Hendry’s historical reference. That’s because it really is a little piece of genius.
Hendry’s point is a surprisingly simple one. Central bankers have been so comprehensively humiliated by the last two years of inflation that they’re now overreacting in a vain attempt to recover some credibility and dignity, let alone bring down inflation.
Remember, they didn’t just cause the inflation we’re seeing. They said it wouldn’t happen, that it wasn’t happening, that it wouldn’t last and then that it wouldn’t get bad. But they were wrong each step of the way.
And so now, in an attempt to recover some of their credibility, and punish those who have been snickering at them, they’re hiking interest rates well beyond the responsible level at a completely reckless pace.
The common man, who has been dishing out ridicule at central bankers for being so wrong about inflation, is now getting saddled with one hell of a mortgage bill in order to bring inflation back down again.
And that’ll teach us for laughing at our betters!
The issue of unnecessarily tight monetary policy is of course the same as the one William Jennings Bryan railed against. Back then, the money supply was constrained by gold. Today, it is being cut by humiliated and vindictive monetary policy makers.
That is why we are being nailed to a cross of Andrew Bailey’s vanity. That is why he is pressing down upon our brow his crown of thorny interest rates. To wipe the mockery off our faces. After all, it makes no sense to be hiking interest rates while UK pension funds melt down, US banks go bust and a recession begins.
Now that you understand the nature of the debate, and the brilliance of Hendry’s comments, check out the full video with Hugh Hendry, Chris Whalen and the ghost of William Jennings Bryan here. Tomorrow, I’ll explain their references to the continuing bank crisis in detail.
Editor, Fortune & Freedom