Public vs. Private

• The weekend’s VE-day remembrances brought a novel angle on WWII: The Germans were victims too!

Of course, it is true. The average German had no more control over the course of the war than the average American. He may even have voted for Herr Hitler. He probably liked the idea of Germany’s recovery from the humiliation of the Treaty of Versailles. He probably approved Germany’s economic recovery too — and the new spirit of patriotism, nationalism and energy. Only a few years before, the Germans were pariahs in Europe — cursed by every paper and crushed under every heel. Now, they could hold their heads up. Everything seemed to be heading in the right direction. How could he know that it would turn out so badly?

That is the difference between the public and the private…between economic means and political ones. In investing, you get what you deserve. In politics, you get what someone else deserves.

• The price of gold has slipped to $426 — just a dollar above our current buying target. We hope it slips some more today — we’ll buy some. If inflation was a growing problem — the gold market doesn’t see it. The price is in no hurry to go up. We don’t buy gold because we think it is going up. We buy it because we think — over the long run — it won’t go down. And we fear that almost every other asset will go down — stocks, bonds, the dollar, real estate, collectibles. We buy gold. We watch. We wait. We are happy…enjoying the spectacle.

• You know, dear reader, we are very susceptible to what Orwell called the “lure of the profound.” We give in to it as readily as an alcoholic gives in to Jim Beam. And…now, we feel a binge coming on. We have been studying empires. Our first reaction to the imperial purple was disgust. Like most Americans, we harbor a sentimental attachment to the modest old republic that was the U.S. of A. But the more we read about empires, the more we grow to like them. They are much more entertaining that humble nation states…simply because they are so much more vain, pompous, and delusional. More to come…

• Henry spent the weekend in Germany, staying with friends. He enjoyed his visit, but he was annoyed to discover that he could not speak German. He’s been studying it in school for four years.

“I went to school with [my German friends],” he told us. “But I couldn’t understand much of what was going on — except in English class. And they all speak English so much better than I speak German, so we spoke English most of the time.”

“What did you think of the school…are they about on the same level as you are in France?” we wanted to know.

“I couldn’t tell. I couldn’t understand what they were saying. Well, on the second day, I could understand more. But I don’t know how advanced the studies were. But I liked the school better than our school in Paris.”

“Why is that?”

“Because they get out earlier.”

What seemed to impress Henry most was a trip to the Haribo candy factory. He came back with bags of the stuff.

“You could scoop out as much as you wanted. They charged by the weight. It was very cheap.”

Bill Bonner [send him mail] is the author, with Addison Wiggin, of Financial Reckoning Day: Surviving the Soft Depression of The 21st Century.