EC HH Hard Assets In An Age Of Negative Interest Rates

Time is the soul of money, the long-view — its immortality. Hard assets are forever, even when destroyed by the cataclysms of history. It is the outlook that perpetuated the most competent and powerful aristocracies in continental Europe, well up through World War I and, in certain prominent cases, beyond; it is the mindset that has sustained the most fiscally serious democratic republic in the Western world, that of Switzerland (as demonstrated in this article). In this view, the stewardship of money, formerly known as “banking,” is a serious matter of serious wealth management and not a weird-science lab experiment of investment products ultimately designed for hedge fund managers’ tax arbitrage schemes.

More than ever the focus on hard assets is a dire call to arms given the deformed market culture of central banking monetary magic. Despite the early promise of the Trump presidency to reinvigorate the economy, the United States remains mired in economic stagnation built up over so many years of debt-driven policies, easy-money policies, and the ZIRP fiasco fostering a bizarre-world situation in which the actual economy is doing poorly while the market is soaring. In such an environment, the allure of the centuries’-old tried and true has never had more appeal.

In a word, the hard asset vision is about building wealth outside the stock market. It refers to three main strategies overall:1) land ownership and/or farmland, forestry and agriculture 2) gold, other precious metals, and certain base-metal commodities 3) The (Old Masters/Classic Modern) art market. Where this last is concerned, we mean art as investment and not art-as-commerce, such as that which contaminates today’s insipid and overpriced world of ‘Balloon-Dog’ bad art. The auction world of Rembrandt and Picasso; of El Greco and Gerhardt Richter has been on a tear, is smashing records, and cannot be ignored as an excellent safe-haven vehicle, as outstanding works of art traditionally always have been.

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