Will Headwinds trump Trump Euphoria?

Monthly Market Commentary: January 1, 2017

According to Professor Patrick Deneen who is in the political science department at Notre Dame, “Our Schools are Committing Civilizational Suicide,” and “My students are know-nothings.

According to Deneen, “What our educational system aims to produce is cultural amnesia, a wholesale lack of curiosity, history-less free agents, and educational goals composed of content-free processes and unexamined buzz-words like ‘critical thinking,’ ‘diversity,’ ‘ways of knowing,’ ‘social justice,’ and ‘cultural competence.’.......They are the culmination of western civilization, a civilization that has forgotten nearly everything about itself, and as a result, has achieved near-perfect indifference to its own culture.”

Similarly, Robert Skidelsky, Professor Emeritus of Political Economy at Warwick University and a fellow of the British Academy in history and economics writes:

What unites the great economists ….. is a broad education and outlook. This gives them access to many different ways of understanding the economy. The giants of earlier generations knew a lot of things besides economics. Keynes graduated in mathematics, but was steeped in the classics (and studied economics for less than a year before starting to teach it). Schumpeter got his PhD in law; Hayek’s were in law and political science, and he also studied philosophy, psychology, and brain anatomy.

Today’s professional economists, by contrast, have studied almost nothing but economics. They don’t even read the classics of their own discipline. Economic history comes, if at all, from data sets. Philosophy, which could teach them about the limits of the economic method, is a closed book. Mathematics, demanding and seductive, has monopolized their mental horizons. The economists are the idiots savants of our time” (emphasis added).

Robert Hutchins who in 1929, at the age of 30, was named president of the University of Chicago thought that, “My idea of education is to unsettle the minds of the young and inflame their intellects.”

Hutchins’ idea that education should unsettle the mind and inflame the intellect – in essence arise the students’ curiosity – is spot on.

I believe that economists and investors should be curious about everything because even though they may regard some issues to be irrelevant for their investment decisions, factors such as geography, history, tradition, religion, history, psychology, law, social structures, etc. may have an impact on the economy and on asset markets.

In light of this I propose to look at a number of factors, which will drive asset markets such as bonds, stocks, real estate, and foreign exchange rates in 2017.

I wish all my readers a very Happy New Year.

Remember Ogden Nash’s words that,

"To keep your marriage brimming,
With love in the loving cup,
Whenever you're wrong, admit it;
Whenever you're right, shut up."

and that as Dr. Samuel Johnson observed,

"A generous and elevated mind is distinguished by nothing
more certainly than an eminent degree of curiosity."

With kind regards
Yours sincerely
Marc Faber 

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