Harry Dent recently predicted that gold will head to $700 during 2018. With the yellow metal hovering near $1270 at the moment and a year high slightly above $1300, a $700-$800 price would be an approximate 40% drop in price. It should be of note that Dent has predicted other crashes that never came to fruition, relative to how one measures a crash. Harry Dent and Jim Rickards also have debated whether inflation or deflation is ahead and why.
Harry Dent sees gold heading to $700 for 3 reasons:
While interesting, deflation has seldom been negative for gold. If we see deflation next year, this could be positive for gold.
Let’s assume Harry Dent is correct and gold is headed for a correction because countries will be forced to sell gold, not just individuals. While some countries in Europe may be forced to liquidate gold holdings, other countries will also be willing to pick up those purchases. For an example, Russia is on pace to pass China’s gold holdings this year and with a growing economy again, Russia has more funds available to buy gold. Turkey also recently liquidated some gold in a commodity swap and may need to pick up more gold. Finally, China’s interest in gold is always present, but the Chinese tend to only buy at lower prices – at this present time, they’re more interested in buying rare Earth elements.
If we see a market correction due to deflation, it’s unlikely gold will hit $700. If it does, we’ll see countries in the East that pick up more gold at those lower prices, so I don’t expect $700 gold to remain for a long period of time – if it ever reaches that price.
After the recent passing of Vladimir Voevodsky, we are all reminded of the importance of people who impact us in ways we may not realize and consider what lessons we can learn from them in personal finance. Sir Isaac Newton is known for mathematics, physics, astronomy, theology, and other disciplines. He’s considered by man to be the father of calculus and a host of other ideas in physics and his work extended to the British financial system – spotting counterfeiters. Sir Isaac Newton accomplishments came through many of his skills that we can apply to personal finance while enriching our life in related areas.
1. Only results create expertise. We live in a world where expertise is determined by credentials or cronyism. Sir Isaac Newton proved that expertise could only be achieved through results, even if someone was not deeply knowledgeable in the field or even if someone did not know the right people. As a simple example of Sir Isaac Newton’s brilliance, he lived in a time where people actually thought that Jesus Christ would return in that timeframe. We can all laugh at this, but imagine living in a world where 99% of people around you actually think that Jesus will return in the next 40 years. Sir Isaac Newton investigated this claim for himself by reading The Bible and concluded Jesus would not return before the year 2060 (he later revised this date). He pointed out that this date wasn’t to specify the time when the event would happen, but that the event couldn’t happen before that time. Obviously, Newton was right – Jesus didn’t come back during the 1600s-1700s.
Sir Isaac Newton’s expertise for his time came from his ability to get results. He was right for his time in that his predictions yielded results for his time (imagine all the wasted time expecting Jesus to return in those days). None of us can know what will happen after we die, so it’s pure luck if we’re right for a future time. To be right in our time, let’s measure ourselves by results, not knowledge or action, as actions and knowledge may not equate with results. When it comes to money, what is our financial vision? What are we trying to accomplish? Anything that moves us closer to our vision is a successful result; anything else is a distraction.
2. Be curious. Sir Isaac Newton helped England stop counterfeiters, who were common in his time. This is one of many skills Sir Isaac Newton had that surprises most people, yet many of his underlying skills in mathematics and physics helped him in other areas – curiousity being a major skill of Sir Isaac Newton. He found ways of interviewing people and researching the problem before proposing and working on solutions for the problem. Without an understanding of the problem, can we solve it? Sir Isaac Newton believed that we must understand the problem and that curiosity is the best way to learn.
Ask questions that deepen your understanding of a problem so that you can perfect the solution. Think about your financial problems: what is the reason for the problem and what is the underlying reason for that? For instance, suppose that you tend to spend money when you’re unhappy (emotional spending); how can you train yourself to either be less emotional about situation, or how can you train yourself to do something productive when you’re emotional, instead of spending? As you identify the problem and deepen your understanding of it, you can quickly identify solutions for the problem.
3. Relate to other people on their level. One of my favorite stories of Sir Isaac Newton involves the apple and gravity (the funnier version is that an apple hit Sir Isaac Newton on the head). Academics debate whether this ever happened and completely miss the point of the story – Sir Isaac Newton told the story of the apple because it visually relates gravity to people. While Sir Isaac Newton is generally not considered an extrovert, his understanding of relating knowledge to people on their level demonstrates that he had more social skills than people give him credit for. It’s easy to imagine an apple falling down; it’s next to impossible to imagine stars, planets and galaxies held together by gravity and its pull. Sir Isaac Newton could have used all kinds of stories, but the apple story – whether true or not – related to people on their level and helped people grasp the basics of gravity.
Find what people relate to and tell stories that relate to people. Whether a story is true or not misses the point (except in some situations); when people understand the message of a story, you’re relating to them on their level. Part of financial success involves interacting with others: whether it’s a spouse, child, or financial advisor – if people don’t relate to you and you’re not relating to them, your situation becomes more difficult. Imagine a financial advisor who does not relate to your goals – you may receive bad advice, or may miss out on good advice. All of us have different levels of engagement – no one way is superior to others.
We should also consider this when communicating our vision to ourselves – we should relate to our vision and how we communicate it. If we relate to visual images, then we should remind ourselves of our vision visually; if we’re audible people, audibly. We won’t succeed by ignoring how we and others relate to communication.
4. Little actions over time yield big results. When we look at each of Sir Isaac Newton’s individual actions, none on their own seem that big. Yet, Sir Isaac Newton is one of the most important people who ever lived and he had significant accomplishments. He proved that small steps yield big results over time. The smallest action of your day contributes to your success, as much as the biggest decision of your day.
With money, small victories build strong habits and those habits become more valuable in bigger actions. For instance, following and automating your budget may feel like a small action, especially when you’re 18 and only make $35K a year. But as you age and make more money, the habit of following and automating your budget means that you can input any income level and follow your own rules. You’re learning discipline at any income level and that carries bigger results as your income grows. Small steps on their own seem very small; aggregated they appear as huge accomplishments.
We should measure our actions by results while being curious about our failures and how we can grow from them. Meandering from our vision may feel good for a season, but it is lost time and lost results and even small actions toward our vision over time result in large accomplishments. Finally, part of our financial life involves other people, from spouses to childre to others, and relating to others on their level will help us and the people around us.
In the past decade, we’ve witnessed the rise of witch hunts against a wide variety of people. We expect these to continue and we expect it will take more discipline to avoid them. Some of this rise is due to social media and the view that we have a right to judge others (we don’t). Some of this is also due to the propagandist Ryan Holiday who used the technique of “outrage marketing” – highlighting outrageous errors by others so that it spreads across social media platforms quickly. Some witch hunts are popular because the person is an “enemy” of a group and trashing the person serves that purpose. Finally, all witch hunts lack reflection that we are all guilty of making mistakes. In all of these witch hunts, we waste our time, energy, and encourage ourselves to engage in strong self delusion. In other words, we lose significant amounts of potential due to these – not just money, but a loss of character.
Every person reading this and the person writing this has made mistakes. No one is exceptional here. No one. If we all make mistakes, why do we judge others? If we all make mistakes, why are we outraged by other peoples’ mistakes? If we all make mistakes, why do we think we have a right to judge others’ mistakes?
In the biographical financial series (see below this), we highlight famous people in history for what they’ve done well. We avoid passing judgment on these people because we’ve made more mistakes than any of the people we’ve highlighted. And the same holds true today: we are no better than any of the people featured in witch hunts the past few years and in the future. We know how much time and energy it takes to perfect ourselves and even with all that time and energy, we’re still not close to perfection. If we feel frustration, we should feel frustration at our own shortcomings, not other peoples’ shortocmings.
We have nothing against imperfect people. We are imperfect. And people’s errors are not our business anyway – our focus should be on perfecting ourselves.
Let’s credit Jamie Kilstein for seeing his own flaws and admitting that his former criticisms of other people, compared to his own mistakes, were absurd. Let’s also recognize that we do the same thing when we engage in witch hunts of other people – while making huge errors of our own, we condemn others who do.
None of us are better than Jamie Kilstein: all of us are just as likely to become witch hunters.
As long time readers know, we state that discipline is the greatest form of wealth because it cannot be controlled by anyone and can be used in every situation. The one ring of power is discipline. In the case of witch hunts, what is the most disciplined action we can take? Avoid them. This takes work, especially in a world that encourages us to mind other people’s business, even though we should not.
Discipline takes work: “mind your own business” requires discipline. Judging other people demonstrates a lack of discipline. Not only are we guilty of making mistakes, our focus on other’s problems means we’re not focusing on perfecting ourselves. This won’t lead to anywhere successful. We only have so much energy everyday to spend for mental attention – how much are we wasting on witch hunts? As the most powerful form of wealth, discipline means we avoid the witch hunt, which saves us energy that we can direct on becoming better versions of ourselves.
We won’t succeed financially, or in any area of life, if we’re constantly focusing our attention on witch hunts. In doing this, we lose sight of our own flaws and we lose energy that we could devote to perfecting ourselves. If our goal is to become losers, fail miserably, and waste time, we should focus our attention on others and engage in witch hunts. But if we want to improve ourselves, we must learn to focus our attention on our own flaws and work on ourselves. Other people are not nearly as flawed as we are and when we look in the mirror, we should see a huge list of mistakes in ourselves that we don’t see in others.
The only definition of failure is not living up to our full potential and we can only achieve our full potential with discipline. We should never worry about other peoples’ potential – it’s not our business.
Suppose that we lose three hours a week in a witch hunt. That’s a loss of three hours we could be building a skill or doing something productive, like connecting with people in a positive way. We could also use those three hours to reflect over our flaws and ask how we can improve. It doesn’t stop at three hours though: as we know with behavior, as we build a pattern of behavior (judging), we increase the activity. We’ve all seen people who started small in witch hunts, but soon it began to consume their life. Looking at it from a compound perspective, in time, we began to consume more of our time engaging in witch hunts. That three hours becomes ten hours eventually and none of these hours improve our lives.
If you look at median income for the individual, most witch hunts waste several thousand dollars a year for the individual. Is a loss of $3000 a year worth feeling superior to someone else, even when we’re all just as flawed? As we continue our behavioral pattern, is $6000 worth it? $12000? We’re not just losing time, we’re losing potential that we could have devoted elsewhere.
To avoid these witch hunts, here are five techniques to use that will help all of us:
Let’s ignore a person’s mistakes and errors – as we’ll commit greater errors – and let’s focus our energy on learning skills that we can use to become better people. Anyone can find a flaw with the characters we cover, but how many people can learn pragmatic skills and see the virtue in each person? This takes work. We’re naturally negative people who don’t want to learn – we are naturally undisciplined. Yet perfect or not, the below people show us some positive lessons we can apply in our life.
All witch hunts start with one of the most powerful vices: pride. Humility says that we should be focused on our errors, our mistakes, our flaws, which we all hate to do. It takes significant discipline to be humble, but without humility we won’t improve. Let’s devote our attention to improving ourselves and stay out of witch hunts. Witch hunts come and go and many people will someday regret all the time they spent judging others when they realize that they are guilty of similar – or worse – mistakes. We are not better than other people and we never will be better than other people.
In the last decade, China has risen to the most powerful country in the world. Historically, China has been a great power three times in its past history and has one of the most successful cultures in human history. Thomas Sowell points out that the Chinese are successful wherever they migrate. As an example, if we look at the top incomes by ethnicity in the United States, we’ll see that the Chinese are high up on the list (note that Taiwan is officially the Republic of China, or the non-Mao version of China, as Mao set China back, while Taiwan never had to worry about Mao). China has also impacted many other Asian cultures throughout history, which shows in other Asian cultures having the strongest levels of income and wealth in the United States and other countries. Yet, in the last century, China turned communist like Russia and almost lost ground against the United States. Deng Xiaoping changed China’s destructive communist fate and is one of many reasons China is the world power.
1. Be quick to admit mistakes and adjust behavior.. True to his adaptable background, Deng Xiaoping admitted that China had jumped into socialism too early. Even though he adopted socialist thought when he was younger and was attached to socialism, he recognized the failure of China’s socialist adoption. Karl Marx had argued that capitalism would eventually make itself irrelevant. Marx was right and wrong: Marx is correct that capitalism will continue to increase productivity in time, making some labor irrelevant. However, labor will always exist – its manner will change. Deng Xiaoping understood that increased productivity can only come under a system that encourages competition and private property (both inherently capitalistic). Socialism cannot increase productivity; its an inherently predatory system, unless productivity has increased to such a level that output is guaranteed regardless of human labor (ie: robots that can make everything humans need will change the nature of human labor).
Why did Deng Xiaoping see this and not other socialistic academics? Deng Xiaoping put aside his ego and his attachment to socialism and accepted what reality said. Ego hindered others from adopting necessary change and China would have never been a world power had the academics succeeded, just like the United States has gone into decline as academics have had more power (the Soviet Union also had the same problem).
What makes a person exceptional is his ability to swallow his ego and accept what works. Not even 1% of people can do this. Deng Xiaoping did.
2. Deng Xiaoping, like Genghis Khan, proved that the underdog has the advantage.. Deng Xiaoping grew up as a peasant with agriculture experience (similar to Mikhail Gorbachev who ended the communist rule in the Soviet Union). A poor background combined with agriculture teach reality more than any school on the planet – you cannot escape reality when you’re poor. You cannot escape reality when you live by what you produce. By contrast, most modern education is nothing other than an escape from reality. Case in point, this TED talk we highlighted to portray another view of success and failure – though interesting, the talk is filled with inaccuracies and false assumptions. Anyone who’s actually raised livestock knows what mixing breeds with productive and less productive breeds results in catastrophe – in fact, breeds like Araucanas have been selected out of other breeds due to their laying frequency. While it’s true that a chicken will never lay 30 eggs a week (impossible), a chicken which lays 8 eggs a week versus 5-6 eggs a week is superior – this is why we have specific dog breeds, chicken breeds, etc. As humans, we select out the genes we want and this refutes the TED assertion. The difference is the experience of people who live in the reality (producers) versus the academics who postulate theories and formulate meaningless experiments (ie: A chicken only has so much potential so a “super chicken” isn’t a possibility anyway; by contrast, what’s the potential to consciousness? Consider that several hundred years ago people would have said flight was impossible yet the Wright Brothers refuted this).
After Mao Zedong passed, Deng Xiaoping should have been at a disadvantage due to his poor background. Yet, he outmaneuvered his opponents and was able to influence the direction of China. His poor background and experience in agriculture taught him to humbly seek results exclusively – never protect ego, as ego blocks results. When you look at modern education, what you see is the opposite of what success does: modern education protects ego by ignoring results.
3. The exception defines future rules and Deng Xiaoping was an exception. In The Power of the Powerless, Vaclav Havel identifies that a system which is built for the average person destroys everyone in the long run. Why is this? Anyone who undertands basic statistics knows that most people conform to the bulk of a standard bell curve – most people fall within 1-2 deviations of the mean. Why would a system designed for most people fail them in the long run? Because exceptions (statistical outliers) define future rules. The Wright brothers were exceptions – we now can fly. Sir Isaac Newton was an exception – our knowledge of mathematics and physics greatly expectanded because of him. Deng Xiaoping was an exception – he recognized the limits of socialism in its time and China is where it is today.
Average people hate exceptions, like Bill Gates, even though exceptions like Bill Gates drastically increase wealth for everyone in the future, and sometimes in the present. A system designed for average people ends up undermining those same people because no exception can exist in the system (the Soviet and communist systems remove exceptions), thus the people do not benefit from the wealth that exceptions create. A world without the Wright brothers, Bill Gates, Sir Isaac Newton, Deng Xiaoping, etc is not a world you want to live in – these exceptions made us all much richer.
4. Challenge yourself. We’ve heard and seen the “I’m triggered” from weak Millennials who can’t handle disagreement. The future for these Millennials is poverty, even if that poverty is only reduced opportunity (unseen). Deng Xiaoping never feared challenging his ideas; even as a devoted socialist when younger, he showed a willingness to hear and see other views. His willingness to challenge his own views led to massive wealth creation, not only for himself, but for others in China.
We can find echo chambers everywhere, but be aware – they are incredibly dangerous. They limit potential and wealth. Isolation equals poverty; challenge your views and always stay outside your comfort zone.
Deng Xiaoping lived as the exception that changed the rule, a reflect of how Mother Nature favors the one for the many. As China has grown into the most powerful country in the world for its fourth time in its history, it’s important to review what made China rise to its position and avoid the fate of the Soviet Union. Deng Xiaoping reminds us that poverty can create wealth, humility will lead us to results, and that we should always be where we’re most uncomfortable while staying grounded.