“We must make our choice. We may have democracy, or we may have wealth concentrated in the hands of a few, but we can’t have both.”
— Louis Brandeis, Supreme Court Justice from 1916-39
Talking with Charles Hugh Smith this week made it clear why CNBC ranked his blog, Of Two Minds, one of the top “alternative financial sites.”
His strong opinions on a number of topics are so far outside of the mainstream that he’s been called both a libertartian and a Marxist. Never the twain shall meet. While we found a lot of common ground during our talk, there were also plenty of thought-provoking ideas.
Here’s how our conversation played out…
You Might Be Left Holding the Bag.
After setting new highs last week, the major stock indexes started the day in retreat. Among the reasons given for the pullback were rumors that the Federal Reserve might reduce cash injections into the markets sooner than expected. While it didn’t take Wall Street long to shake off those fears, Charles thinks something sinister might be in play. He points to the rising number of retail investors and the large amounts of money that institutions are throwing around to attract them. But Charles doesn’t think the Wall Street elite are just looking to expand their client base…
Many years ago, I showed up at a Baltimore courthouse for my scheduled jury duty… and was immediately sent home for being underdressed. Apparently you can’t perform your civic responsibilities while wearing flip-flops. But rather than spend all day debating the silly rules, I merely returned in court-approved footwear. I feel much the same way while navigating the government’s shifting mask mandates. Why fight where they’re required? Yet the mandates have somehow become a major political issue. And according to Charles, the U.S. government’s short-sighted reliance on vaccinations is why the pandemic continues to linger among us.
The One Thing Everyone Agrees On (But, Dare We Say, Shouldn’t)
“Americans seem to have lost the ability to reach a consensus on virtually anything,” Charles tells me, “except printing money and giving it away.” As we discussed yesterday, the polarization in Washington has only prolonged the pandemic. But Charles believes the print-and-spend policies were an inevitability just waiting for a crisis. “The U.S. economy was weakening fundamentally, structurally,” he says. “The pandemic was not so much a bolt from the blue… it just pushed something that was already crumbling over an edge.” It started when the government and markets went from trying “to be solutions which improve the well-being and prosperity of the general populace” to something that mostly serves “the interests of the few, like an elite.”
Let Them Eat Cake, 21st Century Style
Richard Branson just invited me to go into space with him. And not for the first time, either. The billionaire founder of Virgin Galactic has been pestering me about it ever since his spaceship successfully touched down in July. I would love to ask Sir Branson how his jaunts to Earth’s upper atmosphere are benefiting those of us who are consigned to its surface. Since we’re making wishes, let’s bother Jeff Bezos for his thoughts, too. We’ve been pondering the benefits of the billionaires’ space race. Does it represent true innovation? Charles weighs in…
To Charles Hugh Smith, the entire pharmaceutical industry is yet another example of the government and markets putting corporate profits ahead of everything else… including human lives. “It used to be unacceptable for pharmaceutical companies to advertise directly to consumers,” he explains. “Now it’s not only acceptable, it’s everywhere.” People are being conditioned to ask for drugs by name, whether they’re appropriate for their specific malady or not. That’s not all. Student loans and social media offer more evidence that America has become a “moral cesspool.” But Charles’ proposed solution to these problems may surprise you…
You can catch our full interview with Charles Hugh Smith, right here.
In a world where “alternative” takes usually all start sounding the same, it was refreshing to hear a truly undulant take on things. An alternative to alternatives, if you will.
If you missed the image above, you can catch Charles, here.
Founder, The Financial Reserve
P.S. Speaking of alternatives, my Wiggin Session guests over the next few weeks specialize in places to put your money outside, often with better returns than Wall Street — specifically, real estate, art and precious metals.
Together, we’ll not only show you some of the hottest picks in these markets, we’ll also highlight three different platforms you can use to get in on specific plays with ease.
The effort is unlike anything we’ve tried before… stay tuned.