BY CHRIS CLANCY
I recall an aged professor solemnly telling us, that the days when a man could start out with only a few dollars in his pocket, and single-handedly turn it into millions, were over.
I can still remember his opening words.
More lament than lecture.
“Gentlemen,” he wheezed to his mixed audience, “I fear the only way ahead is to join the ranks of the corporate ladder.”
This was way back in the early 1970’s.
It was a different world.
As things turned out most of us did end up working for large organizations. But as for this being the “only way ahead” – he was wrong – there were other options. Not many – but there were a few
One of these options, unknown to me at the time, was the fascinating world of the independent investor.
Half a lifetime later, before stumbling blindly into Austrian economics, I knew little about this other world, and nothing at all about the type of people who inhabit and thrive in it. The kind of people who did start with only a few dollars in their pockets – who struck out on their own and then went on to make money – and plenty of it.
By now I can reel off a long list of people I never knew existed; starting with the likes of Bill Bonner and Peter Schiff and then going on and on and on. The corporate ladder was never the way for these people, or if it was, they didn’t stay for long.
I think of them as the high-plains drifters of the modern world of global investment – the last gunslingers – people who would have been as much at home in the Wild West as they are on the World Wide Web.
Have modem, will travel.
The sort of people who don’t do what everyone else is doing – they are contrarian – which is what makes them so different. Not that they’re averse to running with the buffalo when there’s a profit to be made — but it’s rare.
Solitary hunters – they travel alone – they ride steadily and with purpose
When two of their number find they’re after the same bounty, meetings may become inevitable and can turn out to be somewhat … how shall I say … fragile.
One will exit the hunt minus his scalp — if he’s lucky.
These lone wolves are to be admired for their perseverance – admired for the way they ride into town empty-handed – and leave with saddle-bags bulging.
And they do it time and time again.
So just what is it that makes these guys tick?
Well, let’s just say it’s a combination of four things:
- First: Blazing intelligence – and then some to spare.
- Second: Fully paid-up members of the awkward brigade. Fiercely independent. Trust no-one, accept nothing and question everything.
- Third: A rat-like cunning when it comes to spotting opportunities and pouncing – before the chasing pack can pick up the scent.
- And fourth: A very sound take on Austrian economics – especially the monetary part.
Of the four it’s the last which really makes the difference.
This is the one that sets them apart – the one that gives them their great advantage.
For any young person of modest means, who fits the above bill, I hope what I’ve said so far is going in like a six-inch nail.
And there’s something else to add.
Our modern-day gunslingers understand how the political system works.
“Mob rule” is an apt description.
Not much different from a lynching.
The instigators manipulate the mob. The mob, as usual, haven’t got a clue what’s going on. A few people stand on the side lines and observe – they do know what’s going on – but they also know you can’t reason with a mob.
So they just shrug and leave them to it – more tragedy than hope.
Are they cynics?
Why yes of course they are.
And who can blame them.
They see so much mayhem going on around them, fantasy and farce, mistakes and madness, lies and greed – it never stops – and no-one ever seems to learn. In the end they stop wondering why and just become amused by it all.
They have other fish to fry.
They understand the business cycle and what really causes it. They understand there are far more profitable opportunities on the way down than on the way up – if you know what’s going on – and know how to work it in your favour.
And yes, here we are at yet another denouement – but the ramifications for this one are on a scale which is almost impossible to comprehend – let alone convey. Our gunslingers are well aware of this. They were the first to leap from the stagecoach when they saw the Grand Canyon up ahead.
They’re already repositioning themselves. Just as they did before the 2000/1 Dot-Com crash and then again before the onset of the 2007/8 Financial Crisis.
And a good job as well.
Because what’s coming hardly bears thinking about – as Doug Casey points out in one of his “conversations” – what’s going on is both unsustainable and unreformable.
Therefore at some point it must collapse.
So where will our drifters be as this mega-disaster unfolds?
Camping out alone on the prairie? Taking it easy by the campfire? Looking up at the stars and playing a lonely dirge on a mouthorgan?
Not a bit of it.
The boys mounted up and set off for Dodge a long time ago.
Real assets is what they’re after this time – things like land, buildings and above all, gold and silver.
For they of all people know, that now is the time to prepare for when the blood starts running in the streets – that now is the time to set things up – to put things in place.
For most others the coming crash will be an absolute disaster.
For them it represents a killing opportunity.
And fortunes will be made.
Chris Clancy is a Contributing Editor with Self-Educated American. His essays and articles on economics and other things are widely published on the internet. Formerly he was employed for a number of years as associate professor of financial accounting at Zhongnan University of Economics and Law in Wuhan City, Hubei Province. He then left China for two years during which he wrote a book about his time there – Cut Loose at 50 – a must-read for anyone thinking about living and working in China. He has now returned to China where he teaches economics with the prestigious Dipont organizatio