Navigating Our Time’s Tempest with a Wry Smile and a Raised Eyebrow

To write or not to write? That is the question. When the Hard Assets Alliance team asked me to write a periodic column, I was flattered. What a privilege it would be to share my thoughts with this large and sophisticated audience. As I prepared to put pen to paper, more insidious thoughts crept in.

At the top of the list was the awareness that today, the luxury of speech is often confronted with the harsh reality of unabashed critique – which is not always presented with the gentle touch of civility. Yet there was a reservation that was more introspective. In this digital age, where information is as abundant as air, is it arrogant to think I could tell a discerning audience something they did not already know? Or worse, something they couldn’t procure within seconds from a Google search or a ChatGPT prompt? The act of writing feels intrinsically laden with the selfish assumption that you have something to say that is worth reading.

I’m no Shakespeare. It has always been the case that I have been more adept with numbers than words. But my saving grace is that I am voracious reader with an extremely restless mind that refuses to stop connecting dots, even in the middle of the night when I would be better served by a peaceful respite. It is in this dot connection that I hope to generate a unique nugget of wisdom that enlightens you – or merely makes you think. Short of that, I would settle for delivering light amusement and making you smile. So, bear with me – and please be kind.

Now, let’s start delving into the peculiarities of our age. Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter (or X?) are themselves attention machines or more specifically, envy machines. These platforms are positioned as gateways to global happenings, but often merely serve us curated tales of overnight successes and unattainable luxuries (and the omnipresent “passive income”). Warren Buffett’s righthand man Charlie Munger’s observation, that it is envy rather than greed that drives us, has never been more pertinent. This envy, exacerbated by “FOMO”, makes us particularly susceptible to irrationality. We can be lured into dubious investments: fringe crypto coins, ephemeral “SPACs”, or the meme stock du jour. Often the reality is that promoters of these financial schemes skip away with handsome profits while the unsuspecting majority is left “holding the bag.”

Amidst this digital whirlwind, a few timeless principles can guide us to help maximize your chances for financial success:

Exercise Investing Prudence: The perceptive investor recognizes that true wealth is created by steady, sustained growth. Compounding is not glamorous, but its power should be the cornerstone of lasting wealth. Diversification provides a shield against market unpredictability. And in moments of market mania, a well-tuned sense of caution, patience, and a long-term perspective are the astute investor’s best allies.

Have Discipline in Your Personal Finances: I have read dozens of personal finance books and can distill all that advice into four small bites. Spend less, borrow less, plan for the inevitable life events (both good and bad) and be mindful of taxes.

Seek Good Guidance: When the time is right, hire a small team of advisors that you can trust. This would include a financial planner, accountant, insurance broker and, as appropriate, a therapist.

Limit Media Consumption: News and social media, if consumed excessively, can feed anxiety and lead to bad investing and personal finance decisions. Take breaks, take what you read on social media with a healthy skepticism, and diversify your sources to get a balanced view.

Pursue Lifelong Learning: Continuous learning is paramount to everything from investing to evolving your skill set in a fast-changing job market. Plus, it exercises your brain. In closing, the tango between the digital age and human intuition is intricate. Our quest for financial wisdom should not merely be to navigate these currents but to master them. As we wade through, let us rely on sound judgment, fortified by knowledge, and underpinned by genuine human connection.
As mentioned above, you need to tame your emotions to achieve financial success. And when you achieve financial success, you will subdue many other (mostly negative) emotions that come with worrying about your economic present and future. Good luck and thanks for reading.

Notes:

Precious metals, in my perspective, offer a prudent buffer against continuing macroeconomic uncertainties. While this might echo my professional inclinations, their role in safeguarding and enhancing portfolios, especially in today’s climate, remains indisputable.

Hard Assets Alliance has a sister company, Wealthion, that can help you find a trusted financial advisor.


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