Best of the Week
Most Popular
1. The Trump Stock Market Trap May Be Triggered - Barry_M_Ferguson
2.Why are Central Banks Buying Gold and Dumping Dollars? - Richard_Mills
3.US China War - Thucydides Trap and gold - Richard_Mills
4.Gold Price Trend Forcast to End September 2019 - Nadeem_Walayat
5.Money Saving Kids Gardening Growing Giant Sunflowers Summer Fun - Anika_Walayat
6.US Dollar Breakdown Begins, Gold Price to Bolt Higher - Jim_Willie_CB
7.INTEL (INTC) Stock Investing to Profit From AI Machine Learning Boom - Nadeem_Walayat
8.Will Google AI Kill Us? Man vs Machine Intelligence - N_Walayat
9.US Prepares for Currency War with China - Richard_Mills
10.Gold Price Epochal Breakout Will Not Be Negated by a Correction - Clive Maund
Last 7 days
Gold Price Trend Validation - 22nd Aug 19
Economist Lays Out the Next Step to Wonderland for the Fed - 22nd Aug 19
GCSE Exam Results Day Shock! How to Get 9 A*'s Grade 9's in England and Maths - 22nd Aug 19
KEY WEEK FOR US MARKETS, GOLD, AND OIL - Audio Analysis - 22nd Aug 19
USD/JPY, USD/CHF, GBP/USD Currency Pairs to Watch Prior to FOMC Minutes and Jackson Hole - 22nd Aug 19
Fed Too Late To Prevent US Real Estate Market Crash? - 22nd Aug 19
Retail Sector Isn’t Dead. It’s Growing and Pays 6%+ Dividends - 22nd Aug 19
FREE Access EWI's Financial Market Forecasting Service - 22nd Aug 19
Benefits of Acrobits Softphone - 22nd Aug 19
How to Protect Your Site from Bots & Spam? - 21st Aug 19
Fed Too Late To Prevent A US Housing Market Crash? - 21st Aug 19
Gold and the Cracks in the U.S., Japan and Germany’s Economic Data - 21st Aug 19
The Gold Rush of 2019 - 21st Aug 19
How to Play Interest Rates in US Real Estate - 21st Aug 19
Stocks Likely to Breakout Instead of Gold - 21st Aug 19
Top 6 Tips to Attract Followers On SoundCloud - 21st Aug 19
WAYS TO SECURE YOUR FINANCIAL FUTURE - 21st Aug 19
Holiday Nightmares - Your Caravan is Missing! - 21st Aug 19
UK House Building and House Prices Trend Forecast - 20th Aug 19
The Next Stock Market Breakdown And The Setup - 20th Aug 19
5 Ways to Save by Using a Mortgage Broker - 20th Aug 19
Is This Time Different? Predictive Power of the Yield Curve and Gold - 19th Aug 19
New Dawn for the iGaming Industry in the United States - 19th Aug 19
Gold Set to Correct but Internals Remain Bullish - 19th Aug 19
Stock Market Correction Continues - 19th Aug 19
The Number One Gold Stock Of 2019 - 19th Aug 19
The State of the Financial Union - 18th Aug 19
The Nuts and Bolts: Yield Inversion Says Recession is Coming But it May take 24 months - 18th Aug 19
Markets August 19 Turn Date is Tomorrow – Are You Ready? - 18th Aug 19
JOHNSON AND JOHNSON - JNJ for Life Extension Pharma Stocks Investing - 17th Aug 19
Negative Bond Market Yields Tell A Story Of Shifting Economic Stock Market Leadership - 17th Aug 19
Is Stock Market About to Crash? Three Charts That Suggest It’s Possible - 17th Aug 19
It’s Time For Colombia To Dump The Peso - 17th Aug 19
Gold & Silver Stand Strong amid Stock Volatility & Falling Rates - 16th Aug 19
Gold Mining Stocks Q2’19 Fundamentals - 16th Aug 19
Silver, Transports, and Dow Jones Index At Targets – What Direct Next? - 16th Aug 19
When the US Bond Market Bubble Blows Up! - 16th Aug 19
Dark days are closing in on Apple - 16th Aug 19
Precious Metals Gone Wild! Reaching Initial Targets – Now What’s Next - 16th Aug 19
US Government Is Beholden To The Fed; And Vice-Versa - 15th Aug 19
GBP vs USD Forex Pair Swings Into Focus Amid Brexit Chaos - 15th Aug 19
US Negative Interest Rates Go Mainstream - With Some Glaring Omissions - 15th Aug 19
GOLD BULL RUN TREND ANALYSIS - 15th Aug 19
US Stock Market Could Fall 12% to 25% - 15th Aug 19
A Level Exam Results School Live Reaction Shock 2019! - 15th Aug 19
It's Time to Get Serious about Silver - 15th Aug 19
The EagleFX Beginners Guide – Financial Markets - 15th Aug 19

Market Oracle FREE Newsletter

The No 1 Gold Stock for 2019

Inflation as the Enemy of Investing

Economics / Economic Theory Feb 25, 2010 - 06:56 AM GMT

By: Douglas_French

Economics

Best Financial Markets Analysis ArticleIn this age of inflation, we are all forced to do many tasks that others could do better for us. The fact is that inflation impedes the process of civilization, which is brought about by the division of labor. While, without the central bank's continual monetary infusions, prices would gently fall as technology made all things and all people more efficient, we don't enjoy that luxury. Instead we're mowing our own grass, fixing the flappers in our toilet tanks, and managing our own retirement funds.


Now, pushing a mower requires little skill, is no more than an annoyance, and provides the benefits of fresh air and sunshine. But managing one's retirement funds is a different matter entirely. It is an especially cruel result of inflation that instead of simply being able to hoard money, people must "invest their money into the financial markets, lest its purchasing power evaporate under their noses," explains Jörg Guido Hülsmann in The Ethics of Money Production. "Thus they become dependent on intermediaries and on the vagaries of stock and bond pricing." And unfortunately most of us aren't neurologically wired well for the job.

But we can't just throw up our hands and trust the state to take care of us in our golden years. Saving money isn't enough. The state is continually making what you have saved worth less. And unless you're a government employee, most likely you're left with the assignment of making sure you have enough for when emergencies occur or you're unable to work.

The typical stockbroker went from selling shoes or cars to hustling stocks after passing the Series 7 exam. Your financial future is not his or her concern; generating sales commissions is. Of course there is plenty of free advice out there, from Jim Cramer to Suze Orman. But, you will likely get what you pay for. Finding good investments is very hard work. Buying them at the right price is even harder work. Having the patience to buy at the right time and sell at the right time is nearly impossible.

Austrian business-cycle theory can give investors ideas on when to invest and what to invest in, but the Austrian School provides little in the way of analyzing specific companies and stock prices. What Hayek and Mises are to the business cycle, Benjamin Graham and David Dodd are to value investing. In their famous treatise, Security Analysis, Graham and Dodd painstakingly lay out their method for valuing stocks, looking for deeply depressed prices.

"Saving money isn't enough. The state is continually making what you have saved worth less."

While the average amateur investor may be excellent in their own career field, it doesn't mean they know what to invest in, or how to pick stocks. In fact being very good at your field can give you the false sense that whatever stocks you pick or your broker picks for you must be good, because after all, you picked them and you picked your broker — and you're smart. So, no doubt those stock prices will go up.

But the smart and talented stock-picking neophyte is not investing at all but speculating. "An investment operation is one which, upon thorough analysis promises safety of principal and an adequate return," Ben Graham wrote. "Operations not meeting these requirements are speculative." The vast majority of people just don't have the time or possess the patience to thoroughly analyze an investment opportunity. In The Millionaire Next Door, authors Thomas Stanley and William Danko point out that the average person tends to spend more time on purchasing a car than on looking at potential appreciating investments.

So for those who are interested in accumulating wealth and willing to put the time and hard work toward that end, Joseph Calandro Jr. has masterfully melded the work of Graham and Dodd with Austrian business-cycle theory. The result is a very readable how-to guide for value investing, aptly named Applied Value Investing: The Practical Application of Benjamin Graham and Warren Buffet's Valuation Principles to Acquisitions, Catastrophe Pricing and Business Execution.

One can see by the title that the book is not for someone looking to take the next step after Stock Investing For Dummies, but it's not the handful that the title implies. The beauty of Calandro's work is that he teaches value investing through case studies. The reader can follow along while the author does his own valuations of Sears, GEICO, and General Re. These of course are not made-up theoretical cases, but real-life deals made by value investors Eddie Lambert and Warren Buffett.

Calandro first provides the reader with the basics of Graham and Dodd valuation in order to be "approximately right rather than precisely wrong." The author does this by valuing Delta Apparel, Inc., as a potential investment in 2002. When his analysis indicated that Delta was undervalued, Calandro bought Delta stocks and immediately offered to resell them at a fairer, higher price. This exercise is all about making money, not falling in love with stocks and their stories.

Much of Graham and Dodd's analysis is in assigning different valuations to balance-sheet items to determine what the real value of a company is beyond the accounting. This requires much more art than science.

"Finding good investments is very hard work. Buying them at the right price is even harder work. Having the patience to buy at the right time and sell at the right time is nearly impossible."

A couple of reviewers of Applied Value Investing have taken Calandro to task for the assumptions he makes in his case studies. Although the author doesn't provide much explanation of many of his assumptions, readers should understand that the talent of investing comes through experience and training. Reading one book will not provide all the answers, but Calandro does give us a roadmap. Investors must still make their own judgments. These reviewers may not have made it to the book's conclusion, where the author reminds us that applied value investing is all about "identifying what you know and what you do not know, and then taking steps to quantify what you do know in a conservative yet rigorous manner so that a disciplined valuation can be formulated."

In chapter 5, the author draws upon an article he wrote for the Quarterly Journal of Austrian Economics to give the reader/investor insights into the best times to buy and sell from a macro perspective. He breaks the business cycle into eight stages by "synthesizing [George] Soros's boom–bust model, Austrian business cycle theory (ABCT), and behavioral characteristics."

In an interesting appendix to the chapter, Calandro writes of Warren Buffett's criticism of the efficient-markets hypothesis (EMH), which is the Rational Expectations School of the investing world. EMH posits that prices on assets traded in the market already reflect all available information. The Oracle of Omaha refuses to donate money to his alma mater, Columbia, because of the school's research in the area of EMH.

After applying Graham and Dodd valuation to make a catastrophe valuation, the author applies his tools to firms' business strategies. Next he circles back and discusses the important aspects of each layer of value-investing analysis, emphasizing that the key to long-term success is "research, checking, rechecking and cross-checking of assumptions."

To conclude, the author tells the reader to ignore economists shilling for newspapers, TV shows, political parties, the government, or financial institutions. Calandro quotes renowned Fidelity Fund manager Peter Lynch, who said, "If you spend 13 minutes a year on economics, you've wasted 10 minutes." However, Calandro recommends, in addition to a number of other books, Murray Rothbard's America's Great Depression, Roger Garrison's Time and Money, Ludwig von Mises's The Theory of Money and Credit, and other Austrian titles. With all due respect to Peter Lynch, Mises — a real economist — wrote that economics "concerns everyone and belongs to all. It is the main and proper study of every citizen."

And while the practice of value investing the Graham and Dodd way is more prudent than throwing money at that stock tip you overheard at the bar the other night, always remember what Mises wrote in Human Action: "There is no such thing as a nonspeculative investment.… In a changing economy action always involves speculation. Investments may be good or bad, but they are always speculative."

Douglas French is president of the Mises Institute and author of Early Speculative Bubbles & Increases in the Money Supply. He received his masters degree in economics from the University of Nevada, Las Vegas, under Murray Rothbard with Professor Hans-Hermann Hoppe serving on his thesis committee. See his tribute to Murray Rothbard. Send him mail. See Doug French's article archives. Comment on the blog.


© 2005-2019 http://www.MarketOracle.co.uk - The Market Oracle is a FREE Daily Financial Markets Analysis & Forecasting online publication.


Post Comment

Only logged in users are allowed to post comments. Register/ Log in

6 Critical Money Making Rules