The Old Guy in the Corner of the Room

Armstrong Economics Blog/Interest Rates Re-Posted Mar 17, 2023 by Martin Armstrong

COMMENT: Marty, I hate to tell you but the reason you saw this coming was that you are old – like me. LOL. Do you realize that the 2007-2008 crisis was 16 years ago! Time flies, my friend. Most traders at these banks are under 35. That means that they have never seen anything like this and could not smell, taste, or see it coming. When we were youngsters, the old guy in the corner of the room would always say this is like 1929. Remember him? We are that guy today. I will buy you a Dewars when I get to Florida. The good news is we won’t have to endure this insanity much longer.



REPLY: I guess you are right. There has been a  cycle of events like this for centuries. Perhaps it requires a new generation of traders every 16 years or so who think they know everything. When I was advising Temple University’s portfolio and Merrill was trying to sell them the “new way” to make money by buying the long-term, selling the short-term, leveraging that to the moon and the spread would enhance your yield, the way to increase the yield on your portfolio. The chairman of Temple told them if I approved it the University would consider the proposal. I told them interest rates would rise and they would blow up. These two young kids selling this leverage deal told the University I was “too old” back in the 90s because I did not know the “new way” to make money. The chairman was older than me. The University told them to take a hike. On December 6th, 1994, Orange County California became the largest municipality in U.S. history ever to file for bankruptcy for they tried the “new way” to make money and blew up. That was in the courts for some time.

These people NEVER seem to ever understand when the trend will change especially in interest rates. They also position themselves based upon opinion and consensus but the consensus MUST be wrong for that is what flips the trend back and forth. Only fools invest money based on opinion and the consensus view and are quickly separated from their money. Without that loss, they never learn how how markets work and those that blame others are hopeless perpetual losers for they never learn anything.

Even Ben Franklin said during the Financial Crisis: “In this world nothing can be certain, except death and taxes.” He uttered those words because of the financial panics. in his day. There was the Panic of 1791 which was followed by a massive real estate bubble that then burst during the next Panic of 1792.

The Bank of North America had been the creation of Robert Morris (1734-1806) who got caught up in the whole real estate bubble. Morris had financed the American Revolution. He was a major patriot. Nevertheless, his bank went bust in the first Financial Panic over interest rates back then and he ended up in debtor’s prison thanks to the Panic of 1792. This is one of my favorite relics of the era.

So banks have been failing over interest rate swings for hundreds of years. They don’t teach this risk management in university and the current risk models do little but snooze over the real risks for they ignore cycles. We NEVER learn from the past because people find history irrelevant or boring. You are right, we are the old guys in the corner of the room compelled to watch others repeat history over and over again.

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