Twenty-First Century High Plains Drifters
By Chris Clancy
I recall an aged professor, from a long time ago, solemnly telling us, that the days when a man could start out life with a few dollars in his pocket and single-handedly turn it into millions were over.
I remember his words very clearly.
"Gentlemen," he said lamentably to his mixed audience, "I fear the only way ahead is to join the ranks of the corporate ladder."
I think we were supposed to gasp at this point. No-one did. We just listened respectfully. This was back in the 1970's. It was a different world.
As things turned out most of us did end up working for very large organizations. But as for this being the "only way ahead", he was wrong. There were other options - and one in particular – the fascinating world of investment.
Before stumbling blindly into the world of Austrian economics, and all that went with it, I knew little about this other world, and nothing at all about the type of people who inhabit and thrive in it.
Specifically, I refer to the world of the "independent" investor. To the people who started with only a few dollars in their pockets - who struck out on their own and who 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 traded the Wild Wild West for the World Wide Web.
Have modem will travel.
They are solitary hunters. They travel alone. They ride steadily and with purpose. They don't do what everyone else is doing - they're 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.
When two of their number find they're after the same quarry, 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, or should I say bounty hunters, 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:
Of the four it's the last which really makes the difference.
Suffice it to say, what the most successful independent investors nearly all have in common, is their adherence to the Austrian school of economics. And crucially here, it is their understanding of Austrian Business Cycle Theory, which gives then their greatest advantage.
For any young person of modest means, who fits the above bill and wants a career where some real money can be made, I hope what I've said above 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. They know it's nothing short of mob rule by another name.
Not much different from a lynching. The instigators manipulate the mob in expert fashion. The mob, as usual, haven't got a clue what's going on. A few people stand on the side lines and observe - they can see what's happening - but 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.
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 – never mind convey. Our gunslingers are painfully 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 recent "conversations". What's going on is both unsustainable and unreformable.
Ergo; at some point it must collapse.
So where will our gunslingers be as this mega-disaster unfolds?
Camping out alone on the prairie? Taking it easy by the campfire for a while? 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 some 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 many other people the coming crash will be an absolute disaster.
But for them it represents a killing opportunity - and fortunes will be made.
Chris Clancy lived in China for seven years. Most of this time was spent as associate professor of financial accounting at Zhongnan University of Economics and Law in Wuhan City, Hubei Province. He now lives in Thailand where he spends his time reading, writing, lecturing and, whenever he gets the chance, doing his level best to spread Austrian economics.