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Financial Planning > Behavioral Finance

Niall Ferguson strikes again

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Dr. Ferguson is the Oxford-educated Harvard historian who hit the first home run, post 2008 credit bubble-debacle, by writing The Ascent of Money — a Financial History of the World. Ascent put the mess that began in one sense in August of 2007 and in other ways in the decades before, in to the proper context. Nouriel Roubini and Stephen Mihm, co-authors of Crisis Economics, one of the latest good financial books, quote Ferguson, and pretty much everyone who has written about the crisis before and since owes Ferguson a serious debt.

Niall (pronounced Neal) has a new book out — this one is titled High Financier: The Lives and Times of Siegmund Warburg — and has, of note, been out and about talking up the book. In that context, I heard him on one show or another recently and his thesis is that the U.S. is in trouble because of Democrats and Republicans. Why? He says that in the 1980s, the Republicans were busy cutting taxes, and that in the 1990s the Democrats were spending like mad. The combination of one party reducing government receipts and the other spending like mad, he thinks, could well be lethal. He thinks the problem will come home to roost in 2011 or 2012. If Dr. Ferguson is correct, the situation will be difficult. Remember, though, that the economy and the market are two different animals — when one is in trouble, the other may not be.

I ran gold results for the 12 months ending one day last week (don’t ask me which day, I don’t remember, but it might have been Wednesday, which would be exactly a week before this blog’s date). Gold was up over 24% for the period. I also ran Berkshire for the same timeframe and it was up more than 25%. Hmm. Should I be interested in a metal that sits and does nothing, or a vibrant company that grows and increases in value? Hmm.